Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Benitez Hoping Spot of National Service Will Bring Best out of Misfiring Toon Pair; as Two of Newcastle's Overseas Stars Prepare to Play against Each Other, Chris Waugh Argues That the Current International Break Is Prefectly Timed for the Magpies

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Benitez Hoping Spot of National Service Will Bring Best out of Misfiring Toon Pair; as Two of Newcastle's Overseas Stars Prepare to Play against Each Other, Chris Waugh Argues That the Current International Break Is Prefectly Timed for the Magpies

Article excerpt

THIS international break could not have come at a better time for Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez.

At a time when the Magpies desperately need a shot in the arm for their survival bid, the benefits are clear.

It gives Benitez the perfect opportunity to really start to get his ideas, philosophy and tactical systems ingrained into his charges for those who have not made the national side.

Yet for two Magpies in particular who have been named in their national squads, this also offers them the chance to finally find some form ahead of Newcastle's miniseason - which starts with the crucially important trip to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City a week tomorrow.

Frenchman Moussa Sissoko has been abject for the majority of this campaign, while Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum's form has nosedived in 2016 after a lightning-quick start to his United career.

Since November, Sissoko and Wijnaldum's solitary focus has been on the Magpies' woes.

Now, with the pair set to face each other on the turf of the Amsterdam ArenA this evening, they could at least potentially be revitalised by the fresh environment.

Sissoko, who has failed to score even once in 29 Premier League appearances this season, often raises his game when playing for France alongside the likes of Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi.

United desperately need to hope being away on international duty brings out the best in Sissoko, because in recent weeks his most promising moments actually came when he has was shifted to the unfamiliar position of left-back against derby rivals Sunderland.

If Sissoko was as good as he believes he can be he would be playing in his preferred position of central midfield for Newcastle, not out wide or even at left-back.

The frustrating thing about Sissoko is he probably should have been dropped months ago but the reality is when the 26-year-old plays well the Magpies play well. …

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