Steve McClaren has revealed why he left Ayoze Perez out of his last Newcastle United starting XI.
McClaren’s decision to drop the forward for last weekend’s game against Liverpool surprised many fans.
Perez has been one of the relegation-threatened club’s better performers this season.
But his team selection paid off, with Siem de Jong, handed a his first Premier League start of the season in the game, helping Newcastle to a 2-0 win at St James’s Park.
Head coach McClaren felt United needed de Jong’s “experience” up front alongside Papiss Cisse after back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Asked about his decision to leave out three-goal Perez, McClaren said: “Ayoze is a fantastic player.
“Sometimes form goes up and down. We’ve got good players.
“I’ve got to say Siem de Jong has been very frustrated, but very patient, and I think he deserved his opportunity after coming on against Crystal Palace.
“We said ‘we’ll just go for a bit of experience with Siem de Jong and Papiss, and they worked well together.”
McClaren must now decide whether to change a winning team for Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur.
Perez, linked with a move to Tottenham, scored in last season’s 2-1 win at White Hart Lane.
And McClaren admits he has a “dilemma” ahead of the fixture.
“It’s always a dilemma,” he said. “I don’t like doing it, as you like to gain momentum, but Tottenham are a different opponent and a different proposition.”