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Rafa Benitez addresses Florian Lejeune’s form in his Newcastle defence

Florian Lejeune.
Florian Lejeune.

Rafa Benitez has admitted that Florian Lejeune “needs more time” to adjust to the demands of Premier League football.

The defender – who joined Newcastle United in the summer from Spanish club Eibar – has had an uncomfortable few weeks in Benitez’s back four.

When we were signing him, we were signing a player that, technically, is good, can play on the ball, he can pass the ball, and he was different to the players that we had.

Rafa Benitez

Lejeune, 26, is still getting used to the pace and physicality of English football.

Benitez must decide whether to bring fit-again captain back into his starting XI against Everton at St James’s Park tonight at the expense of Lejeune or stand-in skipper Ciaran Clark.

Asked about Lejeune’s form, Benitez said: “I think every single player coming from abroad to play here will need time to adapt.

“Obviously, a centre-back needs more time.

“But when we were signing him, we were signing a player that, technically, is good, can play on the ball, he can pass the ball, and he was different to the players that we had.

“We have Lascelles and Clark, and he’s different, and (Chancel) Mbemba’s different, because he’s not as big.

“Lejeune’s big, he’s good in the air, he can pass the ball.

“He will need some time to adapt and understand.

“The way they were playing in Eibar, with the line a little bit higher ... sometimes they were playing offside.

“To manage this, to play offside or to drop off, and deal with the pace of (Jamie) Vardy or these things, it’s a question of time.

“For anyone coming from abroad to the Premier League, the adaption’s always difficult.

Lascelles was an unused substitute for the weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to Leicester City.

However, the 24-year-old – who has recovered from an ankle problem – is fit enough to start against Everton.

“I think he’s OK now,” said Benitez.

“He’s getting better, so hopefully. It’s not just a question of fitness, it’s a question of character and personality, so we need people on the pitch who can give something different.”

Meanwhile, Benitez believes Paul Dummett’s critics now have a better understanding of his value to United.

The defender, sidelined since the opening weekend of the Premier League season, is close to a comeback.

Dummett played 60 minutes of an Under-23 games last week.

However, the Everton game has come too soon for the 26-year-old.

Newcastle manager Benitez said: “We’re missing Dummett. Some people were criticising Dummett last year, but now the same people are saying we need him.

“We have lost the only left-back we have. We have had three or four players injured at the same time.

“Hopefull.y if everyone is available we can be as solid as we were at the beginning of the season.

“He’s getting better, but he’s still a little bit short.”