Rafa Benitez says Yoshinori Muto is “closer” to his Newcastle United starting XI.
Muto – who joined the club in the summer from Mainz – is yet to start a Premier League game.
Benitez suggested that the forward still needs time to adjust to the physicality and intensity of English football after last month’s goalless draw against Crystal Palace.
Asked about Muto ahead of this evening’s game against Manchester United, Benitez said: “He’s in the squad. He’s closer. How close? You will see (at Old Trafford).
“The point with him is that you put in a foreign player and his English isn’t as good as we were expecting.
“The good thing that he has is that he’s always smiling. But, the other day, I was asking him some questions and he was smiling and saying ‘yes, yes, yes’ and he didn’t understand anything. Then you have to explain things to him slowly. You have to do some movement that he will understand, then you go to the videos and you analyse all these things.
He’s in the squad. He’s closer. How close? You will see (at Old Trafford).Rafa Benitez
“He’s getting better in terms of understanding, that is the key. Each player and person is different.
“He will improve and he will improve his English and also in knowing his team-mates and the movement of his team-mates around him. He’s getting better.”
Asked what was Muto’s best position, Benitez said: “It’s off a striker in a 4-4-2 situation. But I’m telling you that he’s learning and he’s closer.”