Rafa Benitez responds to calls for him to play two strikers at Newcastle – and addresses Mohamed Diame’s form

Newcastle United's Mohamed Diame.
Newcastle United's Mohamed Diame.

Rafa Benitez is set to keep faith with Mohamed Diame at Newcastle United.

The midfielder, signed from Hull City in the summer, is yet to find his stride at the Championship club.

I think he has to keep going, and give more, and he was saying this week too that he knows he needs to give us something more in attack.

Rafa Benitez

Some fans have called for Benitez to play Aleksandar Mitrovic alongside seven-goal Dwight Gayle.

However, United manager Benitez is minded to continue with Diame as a No 10 behind Gayle against Brentford at St James’s Park this afternoon.

“Diame’s working very hard, and he’s unlucky in front of goal,” said Benitez.

“I think he has to keep going, and give more, and he was saying this week that he knows he needs to give us something more in attack. But he’s working very hard. He’s trying to do the right things.

“What would worry me is if he didn’t have chances, but he had chances against Aston Villa to score, and unfortunately he couldn’t.

“If he has chances, he will eventually score goals and that’s not a problem.

“I know everybody says ‘why don’t you play with two strikers?’, but it depends on the rest of the team at the same time.

“Can you control the midfield without this second striker?

“You might be more dangerous with two strikers, but then you have less power and less control in the middle.”

Asked what was Diame’s best position, Benitez added: “He’s not a proper No 10. We know that.

“But he’s someone who is doing a great job and he has the legs to go into the wide areas or around behind defenders and to create spaces for others.”