Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has been discussing the thinking behind his decision to include out of favour defender Achraf Lazaar in the club’s 25-man senior squad for the Premier League season.

As quoted by the Chronicle Live, the Spaniard delivered an update on Lazaar’s chances of featuring for the club again.

Lazaar spent last season away from St James’ Park and in Italy, as he joined Serie A minnows Benevento on a long deal. The defender failed to convince, however, and the Italian club were consigned to relegation.

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However, another loan departure to Italy appeared to be on the cards for Lazaar towards the end of the summer transfer window, with Genoa thought to have pushed for a late deal.

No move for the defender materialised, though, and now the 26-year-old has been forced to stay put at Newcastle. Benitez addressed Lazaar’s current situation at the club.

He will stay with the under-23s. We will see how he is going on. We cannot say no or cannot say yes – we have to see how he is doing and then we decide. The reason we put him in the squad is because we know it’s a weak position and we have no back-up so it’s just in case.

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