Benitez: In-fighting Newcastle pair will buy us all lunch

Matt Stead

Jamaal Lascelles and Mohamed Diame are to buy lunch for their Newcastle team-mates to make up for a training ground bust-up.

The pair found themselves in the headlines after they came to blows during the international break with Jonjo Shelvey suffering a broken finger as he intervened.

Manager Rafael Benitez has played down the incident, but insisted he had to take no action as the players involved came up with their own remedy.

The Spaniard said: “To be fair, it was a surprise. It was part of a small training game and there was a fight. Jonjo was in the middle so he was making peace and everything was fine.

“After the incident, they apologised to each other. Maybe they will buy lunch for everyone – it was Mo’s idea to take the team out to lunch. I don’t know when or how they will do it.”

Speaking about the incident, Benitez, whose side travel to Southampton on Sunday, added: “I have seen worse than that over the years.

“When you are in the middle of a game, and you are losing or winning, players can react in different ways. It is nothing, there are lots worse than that. Later on they were fine, and they have been training fine without anything special since.”

Captain Lascelles signed a new long-term contract during the break, and was joined in committing his future to the club by midfielder Mikel Merino on Friday when it was announced that the 21-year-old, who arrived on a season-long loan deal from Borussia Dortmund during the summer, had accepted a five-year deal and completed a permanent move.

Newcastle fans were delighted by the capture of a player who has enjoyed an impressive start to his career in England, but some are already voicing fears that he will be snapped up by one of Spain’s big boys if his development continues at the same pace.

Benitez said: “People are wondering what will happen in the future, but in the meantime we have to enjoy the player.”

Merino was delighted to have sealed a permanent switch, although he admitted some things have been harder to get used to than others since he arrived on Tyneside.

He said with a smile: “I am happy here. The weather is not the best for a Spanish guy, but I feel comfortable. I am struggling with normal English, never mind Geordie. I have to study and learn and hopefully in a few more months I will know more.”