Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez insists that he simply couldn't play Joselu against Stoke City

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on December 26, 2017 in Manchester, England.

Newcastle United beat Stoke City 1-0 in their latest match, as they picked up a vital three points.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez gestures from the sideline during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion at St. James Park on December 30, 2017 in...

Rafael Benitez has told the Sunderland Echo that he simply could not pick Joselu to start for Newcastle United against Stoke City.

Benitez sprung a surprise with his selection decision at the bet365 Stadium at the weekend, as Christian Atsu partnered Ayoze Perez up-front for Newcastle.

Joselu and Dwight Gayle were both rested for the fixture, and Benitez claims that he never had the option to play the Spanish target man.

Joselu of Newcastle in action during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James Park on October 1, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

“He had some cramps the other day, so I couldn’t play him,” said Benitez.

“Maybe I could have at the end, but it would have been a risk, and I don’t want to take a risk when you do not have too many players. We have to manage what we have, especially with the strikers. We had to make sure the players could recover and be on the pitch. With his cramps the other day, we didn’t want to take any risks.”

Joselu has taken some fierce criticism since signing for Newcastle in the summer, with the former Stoke man struggling to impress.

Joselu of Newcastle reacts after missing a chance during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Stoke City at St. James Park on September 16, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne,...

Joselu has been picked regularly be Benitez, but he has not scored with any frequency.

Newcastle could now stick with the partnership of Atsu and Perez, after they picked up a victory against Stoke.

The Magpies managed to get past Mark Hughes’ side, as they collected a vital three points.

Newcastle are now in 13th place in the Premier League table, four points above the relegation zone.

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