Ciaran Clark is injured and will not play today at St. Andrew’s against Birmingham and we would expect Grant Hanley to get the start in his place in central defense.
However, Rafa Benitez talked yesterday about a man who seems to have been out in the cold this season at Newcastle – 22 year-old Chancel Mbemba.
Even though Chancel has hardly played this season after being a regular last season, he remains upbeat and still wants to prove himself at Newcastle.
Chancel Mbemba and Rafa Benitez
The former Anderlecht player has appeared only 8 times this season compared to 35 times last season in the Premier League.
A number of fans believe he will be sold this summer, simply because he has hardly been used this season by the manager.
Rafa has hinted that he could give Chancel a game today as he said this yesterday to the local press as reported in the Chronicle:
“He has been training well, yes.”
“When he came back from the Africa Cup of Nations he missed a couple of games because he had some little problems and the team was doing well.”
“Grant Hanley was training really well. When you have to pick the 18 players, sometimes you say: ‘I don’t need another one (in the squad).’”
“You pick a midfielder or a full-back or a striker.”
“Now he’s training well. I’m happy with that.” “We will see if we need him or not.”
“If the others are doing well and the team is strong in defense, you don’t want to change too many.”
“Then, when you have to put players in the squad, you have to pick players you will need during the game.”
We’d be surprised if Grant Hanley doesn’t start the game for Newcastle this afternoon but at least Chancel should be on the bench,.
It’s been strange how Mbemba hasn’t been used this season, but it’s due to the very good form in central defense of both Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark.
Clark in particular has been one of our best players all season and seems to be in the best form of his career.
Chancel Mbemba can also play right back but DeAndre Yedlin and Vurnon Anita have been played there and have also done well.
He’s such a good character and so positive it would be a pity if he does leave Newcastle in the summer.
What do you think?