Rafa Benitez has conceded he could continue to deploy Mo Diame in a deeper midfield role, despite welcoming back some of Newcastle United’s injured stars, reports the Shields Gazette.
Diame has played predominantly as a second striker this season, but has struggled for goals, finding the net on just three occasions in the Sky Bet Championship.
Illness to Jonjo Shelvey and the continued absence of Isaac Hayden, saw Benitez partner Diame alongside Jack Colback in midfield for Newcastle’s last fixture against Birmingham City, where he sat considerably deeper than usual.
Reflecting on Diame’s performance, Benitez told the Shields Gazette: “I thought Mo gave us some fresh legs and won plenty of second challenges.
“He was fine, he was passing the ball and also regaining some balls that we lost.”
The Magpies are in the middle of a two-week international break, where Benitez is hoping Shelvey and Hayden both recover to aid his side’s promotion push.
Despite Benitez’s need to welcome back his injured players, he hinted Diame could continue in a midfield two, he said: “He could play in that position but it also depends on the players around him.
“Hopefully Hayden will be back in a few days and then we should also have Jonjo back to full strength.
“With Jack as well, that means quite a lot of competition – but it’s good to have options, especially if you have to change something during a game.”
Newcastle’s stalemate at St Andrews’ proved to be a point gained for Benitez’s side, as promotion rivals Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town both suffered defeats.
Benitez’s side are now one-point clear of Brighton at the top of the Championship table, but more significantly are seven ahead of the Terriers, who currently sit third with eight fixtures of the season remaining.
Following the international break, Newcastle face struggling Wigan Athletic and Burton Albion in back-to-back home fixtures, where Benitez will be hopeful his side can maintain their lead at the top of the Championship table.
Newcastle fans… Would you continue to play Diame in a deeper role? Let us know in the comments!