Chris Sutton suggested during BT Sport's live coverage of Newcastle's FA Cup replay with Blackburn on Tuesday (broadcast on 15/1 from 19:30) that it was absolute madness from Rafa Benitez to leave Jamaal Lascelles out on the pitch for as long as he did.
The Magpies are into the fourth round of the competition after winning 4-2 at Ewood Park after extra-time. But the victory came at a cost for the visitors.
Ciaran Clark was replaced by Lascelles at half-time due to injury, but the captain's evening was over after 12 minutes as he picked up a hamstring injury. However, the centre-back spent around 10 minutes on the pitch before Isaac Hayden finally came on for him.
And with Newcastle currently in the relegation zone in the Premier League, Sutton admitted that he was stunned by Benitez leaving him out on the pitch for as long as he did.
"Ridiculous, Rafa. Absolute madness not to take him off earlier. He's such an important player. We talk about his importance in the backline for Newcastle," he told BT Sport.
"If you're prioritising the Premier League and you have a huge game at the weekend, why put him on? Why risk him?"
In fairness to Benitez, Newcastle endured a rotten run of luck on the night. There is obviously no good time to lose so many players, but it is particularly concerning when the Magpies face a crucial game in the league this weekend.
Benitez's men host Cardiff City at St James' Park in a fixture that pits 18th against 17th. Victory may not end either side's relegation worries, but it will certainly hand the winner a major psychological boost.
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