JOHN Carver has revealed why he left Ayoze Perez out of his Newcastle United starting XI at Goodison Park.
Perez had been expected to return to the team at Goodison Park last weekend.
But the 21-year-old forward was named on the bench for the third successive Premier League game – despite having been a match-winner in the first half of the campaign.
And head coach Carver persevered with labouring striker Emmanuel Riviere, yet to score a Premier League goal for the club he joined last summer, up front against Everton.
Perez came off the bench for the second half with Newcastle trailing to a James McCarthy goal – but the home side went on to 3-0.
Carver – whose side take on Arsenal at St James’s Park this afternoon – has now revealed the thinking behind his decision.
The 50-year-old, mindful of an experience at Arsenal while No2 to the late Sir Bobby Robson, decided to leave Perez out after examining the statistics from his training sessions.
“He was still down physically on his stats, and we were concerned about him,” said Carver.
“People might ask why I’m talking about stats, but I know (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger looks at the physical stats of his players.
“I remember when we went Highbury for a game, and Robert Pires was playing.
“Wenger told Sir Bobby before the game that Pires was at his limit physically, and he didn’t want to play him.
“I’ll never forget it, because the ball went down past the dugout at our end, and Pires fell over and tore his hamstring.
“The physical data on Ayo was quite low, and it was a worry.
“I didn’t want to throw him in.”
Perez, however, has picked up in training this week, according to Carver.
And the Spain Under-21 international – whose wreaked havoc earlier this season with his pace and movement – is in the frame for a start against a third-placed Arsenal side which is coming to terms with Tuesday night’s Champions League exit in Monaco.
“He’s picked it up again, and he could feature this weekend,” added Carver.
Perez, signed from Tenerife last summer as one for the future, has scored five goals for United this season.
His last strike came in the club’s 3-2 home win over Everton in late December, Alan Pardew’s final game in charge of Newcastle.