Rafa Benitez reveals the Newcastle players pushing for cup starts – and drops Kenedy hint

Kenedy
Kenedy

Rafa Benitez is ready to pitch Kenedy into Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest.

Benitez will field a weakened team at the City Ground tonight.

However, United’s manager is considering handing loanee Kenedy – who was ineligible for the weekend’s game against his parent club Chelsea – a start against the Championship club.

Yoshinori Muto could also make Benitez’s starting XI, while Sean Longstaff and Jamie Sterry are also pushing for starts.

Kenedy has been practising penalties ahead of the tie, which will go to a penalty shootout if it is drawn after 90 minutes.

The 22-year-old had a spot-kick saved and was also fortunate not to be sent off in his last appearance against Cardiff City.

These players need to play, and the only way is to play some of them here and then see how they go.

Rafa Benitez

Asked about Kenedy’s reaction to that game, Benitez said: “Fine. He’s a young lad. He was disappointed after the penalty, but he was fine. He was training well – and he took four penalties and he scored three.”

Benitez wants to get some players who haven’t started up to now up to speed.

“These players need to play, and the only way is to play some of them here and then see how they go,” said Benitez. “Then when you have an injury or you have a player suspended or whatever, you can keep the level. That is the key.”

Muto has made three substitute appearances for United so far this season, and the striker, signed from Mainz this summer, could start up front.

“I think he’s a striker,” said Benitez. “To be fair, he’s been unlucky because when he went on at Cardiff, we had to change the system and he had to go as a midfielder, and the other day when we put him on the pitch, we changed to 4-1-4-1 at the end, so he had to go back too.

“He was not playing in his ideal position in the games he has played.”

Midfielder Longstaff and defender Sterry are contenders to start against Forest.

“I think that they will have a chance,” said Benitez. “Callum (Roberts) was training with the Under-23s. We will try to manage.”

Meanwhile, winger Rolando Aarons – who could leave the club before the transfer deadline on August 31 – will not be involved.

“He was training (with the first-team squad), but we had to decide,” said Benitez. “We had 19 in the squad and we left him out, because in the end, we said ‘if he goes on loan ...’. I want to give a chance to some of the other players.”

Asked if he expected Aarons to leave on loan, Benitez said: “We have a couple of things, but because he’s not playing, some teams are saying ‘he’s not playing, he cannot play’. Hopefully, they will realise because he has all the potential. He has the pace, the ability.

“Anyone watching him, they can coach him and then he can improve.”

Rangers have been linked with a move for Aarons.