Rafa is happy for Murphy to have his chance
Boost for O'Neill as fit-again striker hits form with game time at Newcastle
With news that will be welcomed by Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has promised that striker Daryl Murphy will get more time on the pitch in the weeks ahead.
What had looked to be a difficult move to St James' Park for the 33-year-old has turned around in the space of a few days as Murphy has scored two goals in two games for Newcastle and is almost certain to start in tomorrow's FA Cup replay at home to Birmingham City.
Murphy suffered an injury just after making his debut for Newcastle in September and endured a spell on the sidelines, which also forced him to miss three of Ireland's World Cup qualifiers, a big blow for the forward who had scored his first international goal to help O'Neill's side earn a point away to Serbia.
The ex-Celtic man scored for United in the drawn FA Cup tie away to Birmingham and then netted the winner away to Brentford last weekend, and Benitez says he knew that a full fit Murphy would get an opportunity.
"It's true, it's exactly what I believed - that his chance would come," Benitez said.
"It's not easy for any player when you are not playing to keep working hard and then wait for your chance.
"He did it and he's a really good example for the rest of the players - hopefully these three points [against Brentford] will be important for the rest of the season."
Murphy managed just one appearance for Newcastle, in a League Cup tie, before he was struck with injury and to date has made only five appearances, four as sub.
But with a busy schedule ahead for the Championship leaders and also a potential Cup run, should they win against Birmingham tomorrow, Murphy will get more matches, a boost for O'Neill as he looks ahead to that march date with Wales, especially as Jon Walters is a doubt following surgery on a knee problem.
"Obviously he will have more gamet ime," says Benitez.
"So we need to keep making sure he is working in the same way and if he is scoring goals because I will be really pleased.
"I don't care which strikers score more or less. What I want to see is my strikers scoring goals, winning games and in this case, because he was so professional, I am really happy for him."
Last week Murphy told the Herald that he was concentrating on club form to get himself in shape for the qualifiers.
"March is huge, we'll have a big crowd behind us and I see no reason why we can't beat them (Wales), we have always matched teams at home," he said.
"Right now, I am just focused on getting back involved with the club, I know I won't play for Ireland if I am not involved with the club, so I have to try and force my way in here and get more games for Newcastle before I will start for my country."