Newcastle United manager, Rafael Benitez, has ruled out the prospect of using returning loanees for the remaining fixtures in the Premier League this season. Despite the surprise inclusion of Massadio Haidara, in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Vicarage Road, Benitez will not use the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic or Adam Armstrong in their last two games of the campaign.
Haidara, who is out of contract in the summer, has not featured at all in the Premier League for the Magpies this season, making just one solitary appearance in the FA Cup fourth round defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference on Friday, Benitez spoke of his reluctance to hand the Frenchman a sentimental appearance: “Haidara is in the squad,” said Benitez. “That means he can be available and he can play. Do we need to put him in this situation? Maybe not.”
However, the Spaniard dismissed the possibility of the including returning loan players in their final two games of the year, against Tottenham and Chelsea. Adam Armstrong is one player who would be eligible. He plays his final game for Blackburn Rovers on Saturday evening, who have already secured promotion to the Championship.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is another who could be available for Newcastle, if Fulham can secure automatic promotion to the Premier League on Sunday, thus avoiding the dreaded play-offs. Mitrovic has been in sensational form since arriving in West London scoring 12 goals in 14 starts for the Cottagers.
Benitez, though, informed Armstrong, Mitrovic and the club’s other loanees that they are free to enjoy the off-season.
“The players who were on loan, they know that they have holidays and that’s it, so you cannot create a mess,” said Benitez. “Everyone who has been on loan, they know that they can go on holidays.”