Rafa Won't Be Drawn On Bust Up

Rafa Benitez has attempted to downplay any rifts between him and club captain Jamaal Lascelles after the Newcastle defender was dropped for Sunday’s match against Chelsea.

Lascelles watched Sunday's 2-1 defeat against Chelsea from the stands after an alleged heated argument with the manager in training.

He wanted to play in the centre of a back-three, but Benitez was playing him on the right of the back line in training which resulted in a training ground argument.

When asked ahead of their Carabao Cup second round trip to Nottingham Forest if everything was okay between the pair, Benitez replied: “Yes, fine.”

“I spoke to him before the game at St James’ Park and when he left the ground. I spoke to him this morning maybe three or four times because his partner’s baby is due. We are fine.

Lascelles’ partner is due to give birth this week and is waiting to find out the extent of an ankle injury which rules him out of Wednesday’s match.

“The doctor is waiting for a scan,” Benitez confirmed. “I was talking to him before the game because he came to support the team and after the game. I am talking to him all the time.”