Jacob Murphy hasn’t featured in Newcastle’s last four games, but recent comments from Rafa Benitez suggest he is once again pushing for a first-team place.

The former England u21 winger signed for Newcastle from Norwich in 2017 and has flattered to deceive so far for the Toon.

The winger showed glimpses of ability last season, mostly from substitute appearances.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

But he managed just one goal and one assist in 25 games, and was expected to kick on this season.

Unfortunately for Newcastle fans, this has not been the case.

Murphy had even started to drift from first team contention in recent weeks after only managing two starts this campaign.

There had been worrying reports from The Chronicle earlier this month which suggested the 23 year old had been underperforming in training.

Benitez had told the players on the bench to ‘perform in training’ and ‘put him under pressure’.

But recent comments by the manager thankfully reveal that Murphy has responded well to the warning.

Benitez on Murphy

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Speaking about Murphy on BBC Newcastle yesterday, Benitez said: “I think he’s a good lad, a good professional.

“He’s training really well, so it’s a question of time for him to grow, to learn from the experienced players.

“And also what the Premier League means in some ways, like the pace and the strength of the defenders and the movements, things like that.”

It’s positive news to hear Rafa comment on Murphy’s professionalism and hard work in training. It should help ease fears that the midfielder was beginning to fall out of favour with the manager.

Is there a place for Murphy in the side?

Even if he is training well, it’s likely Murphy will still have to settle for substitute performances.

Newcastle have plenty of options for their wide midfielders with Kenedy and Matt Ritchie starting most games.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

But last time out, fellow winger Christian Atsu was preferred over Murphy as a substitute.

The Ghanaian came on for the last 10 minutes versus Bournemouth, and looked lively, testing Asmir Begovic within minutes of coming on.

Murphy will have to continue proving himself in training to get back into contention.

But whatever his future this season, fans will be happy with the growing competition for places in the squad.

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