Rafa Benitez names UNCHANGED side for Villa – and keeps Aleksandar Mitrovic on bench

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has named an unchanged Newcastle United side for this afternoon's game against Aston Villa.

Benitez has kept the starting XI at Villa Park (3pm kick-off) that beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at St James's Park last weekend.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ayoze Perez and Jonjo Shelvey are again among the substitutes, along with fit-again Daryl Janmaat.

Villa caretaker manager Eric Black said: "Newcastle have everything to play for in the final two matches of the season as they look to avoid relegation.

"Their results have picked up considerably since Rafa's arrival, but that doesn't surprise me one bit.

"He has one of the most impressive CVs in European football, so I'm looking forward to coming up against him today."

Benitez's 17th-placed side are a point ahead of rivals Sunderland, who have a game in hand and take on Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Newcastle team: Darlow; Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett; Townsend, Tiote, Colback, Sissoko; Wijnaldum; Cisse. Subs: Woodman, Janmaat, Taylor, Shelvey, de Jong, Mitrovic, Perez.

ASTON VILLA: Bunn; Hutton, Clark, Lescott, Toner; Bacuna, Gana; Sanchez, Westwood, Sinclair; Ayew. Subs: Guzan, Richards, Adama, Gil, Hepburn-Murphy, Lyden, Grealish.