Rafa Benitez reveals whether Salomon Rondon is ready to start for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says Salomon Rondon is fit enough to start against Cardiff City.

The striker, signed from loan from West Bromwich Albion, came off the bench in last weekend's season-opening defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at St James's Park.

Rondon is playing catch-up with his fitness after only making one pre-season appearance for his parent club.

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United manager Benitez, however, feels that Rondon is ready to start at the Cardiff City Stadium, though Joselu – who scored against Tottenham – could keep his place.

"When we were thinking about bringing him in, we knew he was a big striker," said Benitez. "He can run and he has some ability. He can give us some physicality.

"Can he play from the start? Yes. Can he play 90 minutes at the intensity we want? Maybe not yet. We have to think about Joselu who scored and has more confidence, or Rondon who ahs more physicality.

"We want to have more options, and that's why for me the squad is a little bit better. We have better options in certain positions, but still we have gaps."

Benitez expects a physical game against newly-promoted Cardiff, managed by Neil Warnock.

"We've been working for a while on this," said Benitez. "Sometimes it depends on the quality of the delivery and on your players. In this case, the numbers of corners, set-pieces, free-kicks and even throw-ins that they will put into the box, we have to deal with that, and we've been working on what's just one area of their game."