Newcastle United striker Joselu was picked to start against Liverpool on Boxing Day in a move that surprised many people.
The Spaniard decided to leave Salomon Rondon on the bench at Anfield.
The Venezuela international has made a good start to life at the club after initially struggling with injury following his loan move from West Bromwich Albion.
After the 4-0 defeat, Benitez offered an explanation for the decision.
He said, as quoted by the Shields Gazette: “It’s what we have to do. When you have a few games in a few days, you need fresh legs, and you in these kind of games you have to play with intensity, too.
“It’s impossible without changing. You can analyse things after, but at half-time it was right. It’s just the difference between teams, and the way things were going on with the second goal changed everything.”
It was a big chance for Joselu, but the Spaniard did little to justify his inclusion.
He had a huge chance to put Newcastle in front with a free header in the first half, but squandered the chance where Rondon would likely have buried it.
Can Joselu cut it at Newcastle?
It was just the latest poor performance from Joselu, who has done little to convince fans of his worth following his move to the club in 2017.
He started off this season brightly, but soon started to frustrate by missing golden chances.
He’s only ever scored six goals for the club and there is no suggestion that he can become a prolific goalscorer since he also struggled at Stoke City.
He’s been shown plenty of loyalty by Rafa Benitez but his faith is misguided. Newcastle should seek to look elsewhere for firepower in January.