Jacob Murphy is ‘one of best in training’ says Rafa Benitez as he nears Newcastle recall

Rafa Benitez and Jacob Murphy.
Rafa Benitez and Jacob Murphy.

Jacob Murphy’s pushing for a recall at Newcastle United.

The winger has found Premier League opportunities hard to come by so far this season.

Murphy, signed from Norwich City two years ago, has played 218 minutes in the league.

The 23-year-old is in the squad for this afternoon’s home game against Bournemouth, having failed to make the bench last weekend.

“He’s in the squad – he’s training well,” said Benitez.

“I had a conversation with him, but a normal one. I think he’s doing really well in the training sessions – he’s one of the best in the training sessions – and he has to improve his understanding of the game.

“But he’s quite keen to learn, and he’s working really hard to do that.”

Benitez and his coaches are doing “specific work” with Murphy, who is likely to be on the bench against Bournemouth.

Asked if Murphy was frustrated at a lack of games, Benitez said: “No, not really.

“I think he’s a young player, a nice lad, and he understands when he needs to talk with me. We talk.

“We spend a lot of time doing specific work – his running with the ball, his dribbling, something like that – but he’s still a young player.

“The problem with young players is when you’re not doing well, or the team isn’t doing well, it’s more difficult to play them, because everybody is expecting them to make the difference because of the quality that they have.

“But if they don’t have the experience, sometimes the pressure is too much for them.”

Meanwhile, Scotland head coach Alex McLeish this week revealed that United winger Matt Ritchie had asked not to be selected for Nations League games against Albania and Israel.

Ritchie, however, has not retired from international football.

Benitez said: “I don’t know – I think he was talking with his manager. There’s nothing that I can say. It’s a question for him and the manager.”