Sport Soccer

Thursday 14 November 2019

Benitez backs Ba to silence Newcastle boo-boys

CHELSEA interim manager Rafael Benitez has no qualms about selecting Demba Ba to play against his former club Newcastle today.

The 27-year-old Senegal striker scored 29 goals in 54 Premier League matches over 18 months at Newcastle, before signing for Chelsea on January 4 for a fee believed to be £7m.

"He's quite confident that he can do well if he plays," Benitez said. "He's training well. He's a professional. He knows that some fans will not be happy, but others will understand the situation. He's ready to do his best for the team."

Benitez suggested he would ask Ba for advice on Alan Pardew's team as he bids to improve the Blues' run of three wins in nine matches following 2-2 draws at Brentford and Reading. All nine of those games were in January.

Under the Spaniard, who took charge in November, Chelsea have amassed fewer points from 12 Premier League matches than under his predecessor, Roberto Di Matteo, in the same number of games. Benitez, though, is adamant third-placed Chelsea will improve, citing the returns of key personnel to back his statement.

"If you analyse the games that we didn't win, I think we could have won all of them," said Benitez, when asked about the inconsistency of results.

Benitez played down Fernando Torres' omission from the Spain squad to play Uruguay in a friendly in Qatar. "Spain have some good strikers," he said.

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