Does Chancel Mbemba have a future at Newcastle United?

Newcastle player Chancel Mbemba in action during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Stoke City at St. James Park on September 16, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Does Chancel Mbemba have a future at Newcastle United?

Anderlecht's defender from DR Congo Chancel Mbemba celebrates after scoring his second goal during the UEFA Champions League football match between Anderlecht and Galatasaray in Brussels,...

Chancel Mbemba hasn't been included in a Newcastle United squad in well over a month and it seems plausible that his future at St James's Park is on the line.

The 23-year-old started the 3-0 defeat by Chelsea in the FA Cup on January 28 and has not been seen or heard from since, in a footballing sense.

With that in mind, you wonder whether the former Anderlecht centre-back - an £8.5 million signing in 2015 - will ever play for Newcastle again.

Newcastle United's Congolese defender Chancel Mbemba (R) holds up Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (L) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and...

In truth, the season has never looked all that promising for Mbemba - in central defence at least.

The Congolese powerhouse impressed earlier in the campaign but that was from a left-back role, due to Paul Dummett's absence, but the 26-year-old's return, coupled with the addition of Kenedy, has rendered Mbemba far less important than he once was.

Chancel Mbemba of Newcastle United runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United at John Smith's Stadium on August 20, 2017 in...

It's a strange move by Benitez because, aside from Jamal Lascelles, Newcastle aren't brimming with quality centre-halves and Mbemba, on his day, is no worse than Ciaran Clark or Florian Lejeuine.

But it looks increasingly likely that Magpies fans won't be reminded of this before the season finishes and unless he comes back in a big way, Benitez is likely to shift him.

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