Rafa Benitez has explained why he left Rolando Aarons out of his Newcastle United squad – and sent him out on loan.
Aarons last week joined Slovan Liberec in the Czech Republic on a season-long loan.
The winger had been left out of the club’s 25-man Premier League squad.
Benitez’s decision to leave Aarons out of his squad, and include out-of-favour defender Achraf Lazaar, surprised some fans. However, United’s manager felt that he had enough wingers – and that Aarons needed to play week-in, week-out this season.
“When you analyse his position, we have Kenedy doing as well as he was last season, you still have (Christian) Atsu, (Matt) Ritchie and (Jacob) Murphy too, so to have a young player like Rolando, he was not playing too much.
“He needs to play, he needs to prove to himself and to everyone he’s a good player for the future.”
Aarons, under contract at St James’s Park until 2021, has the “potential” to succeed at the club, according to Benitez.
“He has the potential,” said Benitez.
“He need a little consistency, he needs to play games in a row, and that’s the key for his confidence. He has played a couple of games, then on the bench. He needs to play.”
Meanwhile, Benitez has given an injury update ahead of Arsenal’s visit to St James’s Park.
He needs to play, he needs to prove to himself and to everyone he’s a good player for the future.Rafa Benitez
Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie have been sidelined with thigh and knee problems respectively.
Shelvey has missed Newcastle’s last two Premier League games, while Ritchie sat out thee Manchester City game before the international break.
The pair are “pushing” to be fit for Saturday’s home game against Arsenal, according to United manager Benitez.
“We have had Jonjo training, and Ritchie’s still with the physio, but they’re pushing,” said Benitez.
“These two players are the kind of players that you have to stop them, because they want to play and they’re working really, really hard to be there.
“So, we will see. Still, we have some time, but at least Jonjo was training.
“If we don’t have any problems, he can be there. It’s too soon to say ‘yes’, but I’m quite optimistic.”
Midfielder Shelvey was troubled by the thigh problem in pre-season.
“Jonjo’s the kind of player who wants to play in every game, and he has been training, but at the same time there’s a problem,” sad Benitez.
“The last time he was pushing and pushing, we could see in training he wasn’t fully fit.
“He wanted to play – he was telling us he could.
“We don’t talk about his quality, we talk about his fitness.
“He has the quality to do it, but he has to be fit, because we play against another top side who moves the ball very quickly.”
Benitez added: “Hopefully, this time, with the international break, it has given him long enough.”