Rafa Benitez reveals why he may be forced to leave two key players OUT of his Newcastle starting XI against Arsenal

Salomon Rondon.
Salomon Rondon.

Rafa Benitez is prepared to leave Salomon Rondon out of his Newcastle United starting XI – even if the striker declares himself ready to play.

Rondon and DeAndre Yedlin were involved in international fixtures in the USA on Tuesday night.

And Benitez is wary about starting them against Arsenal at St James’s Park on Saturday given the gruelling journey back to England.

Rondon scored both of Venezuela’s goals in their win over Panama in Miami, while defender Yedlin came off the bench against Mexico in Nashville.

“This period is quite difficult,” said Benitez. “(Christian) Atsu is back now and was training on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we have a couple more problems, but DeAndre and Rondon will come late. It will be difficult for us, because sometimes they come to us and they say ‘I’m fine’. But they can be tired. Rondon plays in Miami.

“It’s important for us to keep the communication with their medical staff and make the right decision about who plays. Some players are training now and are feeling confident. The others? Who knows?

DeAndre Yedlin

DeAndre Yedlin

“In the end, it’s a difficult decision. I remember when I was at Valencia and four players were called for international duty and they came back.

“We had a difficult game and I was asking them before the game ‘are you fine?’. They said ‘yes’, but if I could make four substitutions after two minutes, I would! We lost the game. They did not have the energy to make an impact, and they were key players for us.”

Benitez expects Rondon and Yedlin to declare themselves fit for the Arsenal game, but he will consult the medical staff and physios before making a final decision.

“Even if they say ‘yes, we’re fit’ and they understand your style, maybe they are tired,” said United’s manager.

DeAndre and Rondon will come late. It will be difficult for us, because sometimes they come to us and they say ‘I’m fine’. But they can be tired. Rondon plays in Miami.

Rafa Benitez

“You have to talk with the medical staff, physios and masseurs. If you play them and they do well, the rest of the players are fine. But if you play them and they’re not right, the rest of the players are not happy.”