It has been revealed by The Chronicle today that Mo Diame started on Monday night not only due to Mikel Merino’s absence, but because Isaac Hayden was also ‘not 100% fit’ – also revealing that forgotten man Henri Saivet is ‘in contention’ for tomorrow’s visit of Bournemouth at St James’ Park!
When the teams were announced on Monday night, there were quite a few fans surprise and disappointed to see Mo Diame return to the Newcastle midfield.
It was a game we went on to lose and several of us were left wondering if we have coped better with Isaac Hayden or Mikel Merino alongside Jonjo Shelvey instead.
Whilst we knew Merino was out with a back injury, The Chronicle’s Chris Waugh explains here just why Diame was handed a start – with it being revealed that Isaac Hayden was also struggling after picking up a knock in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace:
“Even with Merino unavailable – the Spaniard has suffered a back injury and it is highly unlikely he will be fit to take on Bournemouth on Saturday – Diame did not appear the natural starter alongside Shelvey in holding midfield at Turf Moor.
“But there were a couple of reasons why Benitez opted for the Senegalese midfielder.
“First of all, Isaac Hayden had been struggling during the week in training with a niggle, and Benitez did not feel he was fit enough to start.
“Second of all, given that Diame is powerful midfielder who covers a lot of ground, clearly Benitez opted for strength and workrate against a Burnley team renowned for their doggedness.
“It did not pay off, but that appears to be Benitez’s thinking as far as Diame’s selection was concerned.
In addition, The Chronicle have also revealed today that Henri Saivet is in contention to play against Bournemouth tomorrow.
With Merino set to be missing once again and Diame unlikely to keep his place, you can see why the forgotten Senegalese midfielder has had his name thrown into the mixer, however I expect Hayden to play alongside Jonjo Shelvey – providing the former is fully fit.
Saivet gave a superb interview recently, stating his desire to work hard and impress Rafa Benitez to get back into his plans at NUFC and he was included in our squad for the first time in the league this season at Burnley.
It seems unlikely to me that he starts, but given Benitez’s decision to play Diame on Monday, Rafa may just surprise us again tomorrow?!