Rafa Benitez gives his verdict on Sean Longstaff's full Premier League debut for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez hailed Sean Longstaff after handing the midfielder his full Premier League debut against Chelsea.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 13 January, 2019, 09:42
Sean Longstaff.

Longstaff started yesterday's game at Stamford Bridge alongside Isaac Hayden.

Benitez turned to Longstaff after losing Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey to injuries and Ki Sung-yueng to the Asian Cup.

The 21-year-old on was up against N’Golo Kante

“He did well,” said United manager Benitez. “We had some problems in the middle in terms of numbers, so to play a young player like him and see how he did, I‘m quite pleased with him.”

Longstaff is likely to start Tu4esday night’s FA Cup replay against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, having played in the first game at St James’s Park.

Benitez hopes to have Diame and Shelvey back for Saturday’s home Premier League game against Cardiff City.

Newcastle came from behind against Chelsea, who took the lead through an early Pedro goal.

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Ciaran Clark cancelled that strike out before the break with a header from a corner, but Willian claimed all three points for the home side in the second half.

Reflecting on the Chelsea game, Benitez said: "I think we did quite well for a while.

"In the first half, after conceding the goal, the reaction of the team was quite positive. For me, that means the players care and the effort is there.

"The workrate was there, and the understanding of the game plan and what we wanted to do was also there. We had chances at corners and scored, but they started the second half pushing.

"We were defending, but Willian made the difference. After that, we had to keep pushing, but normally you are getting tired.

"We were still in the game, but we had to be more open some times and go higher.

"When we gave the ball away, they had the chance to play on the counter-attack. When you talk about the names they have, and the quality and the pace, that is normal. In the end, it was quite positive in terms of the things we did and the way that we did it."