No Decision On Midfielders

RAFA BENITEZ will not be looking to make any decisions on Newcastle United’s midfielders until his own future is clearer and the club’s Premier League safety has been guaranteed.

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The Magpies – who have been linked with Parma striker Roberto Inglese - will head to Bournemouth this Saturday with a six-point cushion to the relegation zone after beating Everton last weekend.

Newcastle are looking strong contenders to avoid slipping back into trouble but Benitez is adamant he will not be making any decisions on his players for next season until things are certain.

That means midfielder Mo Diame must wait to learn what will happen to him this summer, even though he would like to stay on Tyneside after his contract has expired.

In an ideal world he would be given an early extension but Newcastle, who have shown a reluctance in the past to keep players over the age of 30, do not want to rush into anything with Benitez’s status quo.

It is well documented that the manager’s contract is also up for renewal this summer and he is seeking assurances from owner Mike Ashley about the club’s ambitions before he commits to new terms.

That means Diame will have to wait before he can enter negotiations himself, with Benitez reluctant to let players leave if there are no replacements lined up.

The Senegal international will not be short of options and there is already believed to be interest from the Championship, Premier League and overseas, and foreign clubs can already talk to him with a view to signing a pre-contract.

Diame has recently admitted that he is happy on Tyneside but he has fallen out of favour since suffering an injury at the turn of the year.

The emergence of youngster Sean Longstaff made it harder for him initially. In the absence of the injured Longstaff against Everton, though, Ki Sung-yeung was preferred to start alongside Isaac Hayden.

Even when South Korean Ki was replaced at the break, it was Jonjo Shelvey who was introduced and he helped spark a turnaround with some fine deliveries.

Both Shelvey and Hayden – who are under contract until 2021 - have attracted interest from the Premier League themselves, with Hayden also requesting to move down south for personal reasons in the last two windows.

Newcastle are looking to take another step towards safety at Bournemouth on Saturday when it would be a surprise if Shelvey didn’t start in the middle.