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Rafa Benitez responds to questions on Jamaal Lascelles' omission from his Newcastle squad

Rafa Benitez and Maurizio Sarri
Rafa Benitez and Maurizio Sarri

Rafa Benitez insisted that Jamaal Lascelles was left out of his Newcastle United squad because of an injury.

Lascelles wasn't involved in this afternoon's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea because of an ankle problem.

However, United's captain is also understood to have had an argument with Benitez ahead of the Premier League fixture.

Asked about reports of a bust-up, Benitez said: “All my life I like to talk with players. We decide with what we have to do. Everyone knows that. If players have different opinions, then we have to speak about it. That’s it, and then we stick to the plan.”

Benitez was also without Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), while Kenedy was ineligible and Isaac Hayden was suspended.

“We had six players out of the team," said Benitez. "(Javier) Manquillo, Jamaal and Jonjo were injured, Kenedy couldn’t play and Hayden was suspended.

Jamaal Lascelles

Jamaal Lascelles

"For a team like us to lose six players, we had problems. Jonjo was tight. Maybe he will need a couple of weeks. Jamaal, hopefully, will be fine for the next game."