Rafa Benitez reacts to Ciaran Clark's performance in Newcastle's win over Rotherham

Rafa Benitez says Ciaran Clark has given his Newcastle United defence balance.

Ciaran Clark
Ciaran Clark

Clark, signed from Aston Villa last month, has been superb in the club’s last four games.

The experienced defender came into Benitez’s starting XI in place of Chancel Mbemba after Newcastle’s home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Clark made more last-ditch blocks and tackles in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Rotherham United at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Asked about the 27-year-old’s performance, United manager Benitez said: “He’s a player with experience.

“And also, because he’s left-footed, he can give us a little balance by playing balls out from the back with his left foot.

“When we brought him here, we knew that he had experience of the Premier League, and so we knew we were signing a good player. He is showing that every week.

“But I almost must say that I am really pleased with the competition at centre-back, with all the other players pushing really hard.”

Benitez, however, feels his team is defending from the front.

“It was another clean sheet, and that means we are working hard in defence,” said Benitez.

“But I will give praise not only to the keeper and the defender, but also to the rest of the team because Mo Diame and Dwight Gayle were working very hard trying to stop their centre-backs. The midfielder were working hard.

“So that shows the team was working hard – and that is the main thing we need to keep doing.”