Newcastle United outcast breaks silence over first-team exile

Achraf Lazaar hasn't made a first-team appearance since September 2017
Achraf Lazaar hasn't made a first-team appearance since September 2017

It's been nearly 16 months since Achraf Lazaar last made a first-team appearance for Newcastle United - however he is refusing to give up.

The 26-year-old was signed by Rafa Benitez in the summer of 2016 in a bid to help the Magpies gain promotion to the Premier League at the first attempt.

But while Newcastle achieved their ultimate goal - Lazaar didn't play the part he presumed he would.

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Clocking up just four Championship appearances, the Moroccan was predominately used in cup matches.

His last senior outing in a black and white shirt followed in a 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest in August last year before being shipped out on loan to then Serie A side Benevento.

On his return to Tyneside this summer, Lazaar was told to train with the U23s after a switch back to Italy with Genoa failed to materialise.

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However, due to the international break seeing defenders DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett called up to represent their respective countries, Lazaar was back among first-team training at Benton last week.

Admittedly, any recall to Benitez's matchday squad remains highly-unlikely - but Lazaar insists he'll be ready if an unexpected call does come his way.

“I'm training hard and I also do some training to be ready and fit," told the former Palermo man to tuttomercatoweb.

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“I'm honest: I signed for Newcastle and I expect to be taken into consideration.

“But football is like that, something wrong can happen.

“But you must continue to do your job by respecting the choices.

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“Do not give up. Then in January if a call comes in I have to be ready.”