What is Newcastle United's strongest team? Rafa Benitez reveals his thoughts

Rafa Benitez says he knows Newcastle's strongest side
Rafa Benitez says he knows Newcastle's strongest side

Rafa Benitez insists he knows what his strongest line-up at Newcastle United is - but hinted that it wasn't the side that beat Bournemouth.

The Spaniard was forced to make changes to the side that registered a first victory of the campaign against Watford, with Jonjo Shelvey, Yoshinori Muto and Jamaal Lascelles all unavailable.

But while those that deputised for the trio performed admirably, Benitez hinted that their displays have not changed his perception on what his strongest Newcastle United side is.

He was, however, keen to praise the side for their performance against the Cherries and in particular those who came into the line-up for the 'great contribution' they made.

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When asked whether he knew his strongest side, Benitez said: “Yes, more or less we know, but for example today we had to change players because of the injuries, but still the players who were on the pitch did well.

"Then we had to change players during the game because they had some knocks and problems and still the players coming from the bench did well.

“I am really pleased with the reaction of the players, especially – and I want again to give credit to them – the players who were not playing before and they have come in now and are making a great contribution for the team."

Summer signings Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon came in for particular praise from supporters after the triumph, with Benitez too singling out their performances.

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But he was keen to ensure credit was spread throughout the side after a positive display all-round.

“I have to give credit today to Schar too because he was very good." he added.

"But you can praise the defenders, you can praise the midfielders, you can praise the strikers, even the keeper, so everybody was making a contribution.

“Today for me, I know you will talk about Rondon because he scored the goals, so I don't need to say too much, but I want to give credit to all of them."