Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez calls on the FA to look into Zaha's protection plea

Credit: PA

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has called on the Football Association to look into Wilfried Zaha's plea for greater protection from referees.

Benitez takes his winless side to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday with the Eagles' frontman's comments, in which he claimed he would have to have his leg broken before an opponent was sent off, having made headlines last weekend.

The Spaniard said: "I'm surprised because normally the FA deal with these comments, but I have a lot of confidence in Andre Marriner.

"He has experience - even if his record with our players is not the best in terms of red cards but I am quite confident.

"He is a very good referee with experience and he will deal with the situation in a normal way."

However, Benitez insisted the Magpies would not change their plans for dealing with Ivory Coast international Zaha as a result of his cry for help.

He said: "Not really. He's a good player, no doubt about that, but I think the FA has to deal with these comments and I'm sure that Andre Marriner will not have this in the back of his head.

"The way that he plays, normally he will receive more tackles than other players because he likes to run at players. It won't make any difference for our players.

Newcastle are without a win so far this season and suffered defeat in the Carabao Cup to Championship Nottingham Forest. Credit: PA

"You can maybe get 20 players in any competition talking about the same thing. Players with pace and ability are normally exposed to these things. It's something we cannot change.

"You cannot ask for a red card before the game. It is something we cannot control, but maybe someone else will make a point.

"A few weeks ago, we were playing against Chelsea and Manchester City and they don't have just one, they have 11. It's a normal situation for us.

"We know the player, our players know him and they will deal with him in the same way they would for another player from another game."

Benitez paid tribute to Stephen Darby after the former Liverpool player announced his retirement this week. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Benitez voiced his support for Stephen Darby and his wife Steph Houghton following the 29-year-old Bolton defender's decision to retire from football after revealing he has motor neurone disease.

The Newcastle boss, who handed Darby his debut for Liverpool, said: "As a professional and a lad, he was amazing. When he was with us, he was really good.

"I would like to see him and support him in any way. He's very positive, he's a fighter and I think his wife is exactly the same. They will go through in the best way possible."