Rafa Benitez on the low-key deal which is finally '˜paying dividends' for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez says the signing of Daryl Murphy is starting to 'pay dividends'.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 7:00 am
Daryl Murphy

Murphy has scored two goals in his last two games.

And the striker could be handed another start against Birmingham City at St James’s Park in tonight’s third-round FA Cup replay.

Murphy found his opportunities limited in the first half of he season by injuries and the form of Dwight Gayle, who suffered a hamstring injury in Saturday’s 2-1 Championship victory over Brentford.

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Gayle joined Aleksandar Mitrovic – who suffered a deep gash to his leg in the 1-1 draw against Birmingham at St Andrew’s earlier this month – in the treatment room.

The 33-year-old, signed from Ipswich Town last summer, is now a pivotal player for Benitez, who has not put a timescale on Gayle’s return.

“Obviously, to lose two strikers is not good news for anyone,” said United manager Benitez.

“But signing a player like Murphy with experience of the Championship is paying dividends now.

“We needed that. We needed his experience.”

Injury-hit Benitez – who has had four Under-23 players training with his first-team squad ahead of the Birmingham game to make up the numbers – has midfielder Jonjo Shelvey back from suspension for the cup tie.

“We have had four kids training with us this week,” said Benitez.

“It’s also important to have players like Jonjo coming back. He was playing really well.

“It is important we can have as many players as we can fit and with quality to help players play better.”

Stuart Findlay, Dan Barlaser, Jamie Holmes, Luke Charman and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni were left out of Peter Beardsley’s Under-23 squad for Monday night’s game against Swansea City, which United lost 3-1.

Meanwhile, Newcastle winger Christian Atsu, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, was man of the match in Ghana’s 1-0 win over Uganda in the Africa Cup of Nations yesterday.