Rafa Benitez explains why he picked Newcastle's Dwight Gayle ahead of Aleksandar Mitrovic

Dwight Gayle
Dwight Gayle

Rafa Benitez has explained his decision to leave Aleksandar Mitrovic out of his Newcastle United starting XI at Elland Road.

Benitez preferred Dwight Gayle up front against Leeds United yesterday – and the striker repaid his faith.

Leading scorer Gayle scored both Newcastle goals in a 2-0 Championship win for Benitez's side.

Benitez, however, admitted the decision was a "difficult" one, though Gayle was fresh, having not started a game in almost a month.

Mitrovic, meanwhile, had been away with Serbia during the international break.

Asked about his decision, manager Benitez said: "It was quite difficult for me to decide if I would play Mitro or him, because they are both training really well, they are scoring goals.

"It's good for me because it's a nice problem. I have a lot of confidence in both.

"You have to decide, analyse how they are in the training sessions. Dwight was training with us, he was not with the national team.

"Mitrovic is doing really well. I was watching the (Serbia) game against Wales and he scored a great goal.

"It's difficult because both are pushing and doing well. It's credit to them."

Gayle's goal tally for the season now stands at 13 ahead of Saturday's home game against Blackburn Rovers.