Rafa Benitez reveals why he left out Yoshinori Muto at Newcastle United

Yoshinori Muto didn’t even make the bench at St James’s Park – but the forward has done nothing wrong.

By Miles Starforth
Monday, 25 February, 2019, 07:00
Yoshinori Muto.

Muto hasn’t played for Newcastle United since returning from Japan’s Asian Cup campaign early this month.

Rafa Benitez – who only has Ciaran Clark and Rob Elliot unavailable through injury – is having to make some difficult decisions when selecting his starting XIs and benches.

And Muto, signed from Mainz last summer, must wait for an opportunity.

“He’s doing well and training well,” said Benitez, whose side beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 on Saturday.

“In his case, we needed another one just in case to play as a second striker, but we’re pleased with him.

“He’s very positive, and is always working really hard, but he has to keep working hard to get in the team.”

Fit-again midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame also didn’t make the bench, though they could be involved in tomorrow night’s Premier League home game against Burnley.

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“My problem now is that the players who aren’t in the team have put me under pressure to make decisions,” said Benitez, United’s manager.

“It’s a pity, but obviously you can pick only 18 players, and some have to wait.”

Shelvey hasn’t played since early last month, when he aggravated a thigh injury coming off the bench in an FA Cup tie.

Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden have done well in the absence of Shelvey, Diame and Ki Sung-yueng, who went to the Asian Cup with South Korea.

Benitez said: “Jonjo? We’ll see. Obviously, the match fitness is an issue at this stage.”

Meanwhile, Tommy Smith was sent off for lunging at Miguel Almiron, who was making his full United debut.

Huddersfield manager Jan Siewert said: “The red card broke our neck – before that we had the possibility of possession and chances. It changed the situation of the game.”