Rafa Benitez has revealed why he trusted Henri Saviet against West Ham United.
Saivet scored a stunning 30-yard free-kick in Newcastle United's 3-2 win at the London Stadium this afternoon.
Mohamed Diame and Christian Atsu also found the net as Benitez's side claimed their first win in 10 games.
Diame and Saivet were handed starts in midfield after Merino and Hayden were sidelined by injuries on the eve of the game.
It was Saivet's first Premier League appearance of the season.
"I could not say too much before the game about the selection, because I knew (West Ham manager David) Moyes was listening," said Benitez.
"But we had problems with Merino and Hayden, and (Jonjo) Shelvey was suspended.
"Saivet understands the game. Technically, he's good, and he can take free-kicks. Both he and Diame are from Senegal, so it was important they understood each other and they did really well."
The result moved Newcastle up to 15th in the Premier League.
"In terms of the club, you have to keep winning to be sure that you stay in the Premier League," said Benitez.
"That's the target. But for the fans this is about belief and showing we can win games and can compete.
"You can see the team spirit and workrate of different players, but it doesn;t mean we don't still need players to compete at another level. They are different things."