Rafa Benitez backs Daryl Murphy to become Newcastle United's first-choice striker

The Republic of Ireland striker looks set to make his debut this evening against Wolves in the EFL

BY Cian Roche 09:00 Tuesday 20 September 2016, 9:00 20 Sep 2016

Image: Darko Vojinovic / AP/Press Association Images

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has challenged Ireland's Daryl Murphy to become the club's first-choice striker ahead of his debut against Wolves.

The 31-year-old scored his first international goal earlier this month during the Republic of Ireland's 2-2 draw with Serbia and is expected to make his first start during Newcastle's EFL Cup third-round tie with Wolves later this evening.

This will be the second time in as many as four days that Newcastle will take on Wolves, with Walter Zenga's side running out 2-0 winners at St. James's Park on Saturday afternoon. 

Speaking ahead of tonight's game, Benitez praised Murphy's work ethic and says he could become a vital player for the club this season.

"Daryl has not been involved because we had other strikers, and we were winning," he told The Northern Echo. "But he has been really good in the training sessions, so we will see if he can do the same during the games.

"He is a player with experience in this competition [Championship], and who has scored goals at this level. What I have seen from him is a confirmation of what people told me – he is a good professional who is very positive for the team.

"He has not been involved yet, but he has been training really well and that is an example for other players to follow. Even at his age, he is still playing at international level and doing well."

Dwight Gayle featured for Newcastle against Wolves on Saturday afternoon. Image: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Newcastle are operating a lone striker system, with Murphy battling it out with Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic for a starting berth.

"It could be that one striker does so well that we have to keep him in the team," he continued. "Ayoze [Perez] and Jonjo [Shelvey] did so well in the game at QPR that I felt I had to keep them in the team [against Wolves]. It is not the case that you are simply changing players because you feel like you have to.

"Some players will continue playing in the team if they do well, although it depends on the position and the competition we are in.

"It could be that you have one striker scoring a lot of goals, but you have another training so well that they have to get a chance. But it could be that one player keeps on scoring and stays in the team.

"It is about finding the balance between rotating and choosing the right team for every game."

Via The Northern Echo

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