Newcastle boss wants star man to lead club’s survival charge

Rafael Benitez has praised his Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko following his side’s emphatic 3-0 victory over Swansea on Saturday.

Goals from Jamaal Lascelles and Andros Townsend either side of Sissoko’s 84th minute strike gave Newcastle their first victory under the Spaniard, renewing their hope of escaping relegation.

Sissoko, who was made captain for the fixture at St James’ Park, scored his first goal of the season and was described by Benitez as a “good example for the other players” following the game.

Since joining from Toulouse in 2013, the Frenchman has been very much a hit-and-miss signing for the Geordie side.

On his best days, Sissoko has the ability to wreak havoc on any Premier League defence with his powerful running and excellent passing.

Benitez was not shy in addressing the issue however, and is quoted by ESPN as saying: “I knew what the perceptions of him were before I arrived.

“When I came, a lot of people were giving me information, that he was not the player he should be.

“I had that conversation with him. He was one of the players that I knew when we were playing against Newcastle was very dangerous. I tried to bring him back and give him this confidence.  The first day, watching his face, he was believing again. He was thinking: ‘I can do well.’

“It was really important for the team he scored a goal and played as well as he did against Swansea.”

Newcastle take on Manchester City tonight at St James’ Park, and will need the French international to be at his mercurial best if they hope to take points from Manuel Pellegrini’s in-form side.