RAFAEL BENITEZ has left Ciaran Clark and Mikel Merino out of his Newcastle United starting line-up for today's game at Southampton.

Despite having been two of the Magpies' most impressive players in their last couple of outings, Clark and Merino find themselves on the substitutes' bench at St Mary's.

Florian Lejeune returns to the starting line-up for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, and will partner Jamaal Lascelles at the heart of the back four.

Isaac Hayden is preferred to Merino, with the former Arsenal trainee set to play alongside Jonjo Shelvey at the heart of midfield.

SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Forster; Cedric, Yoshida, van Dijk, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu, Tadic, Redmond; Gabbiadini, Long.

Subs: McCarthy (gk), Hoedt, Davis, Ward-Prowse, McQueen, Boufal, Austin.

NEWCASTLE (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Yedlin, Lejeune, Lascelles, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden; Ritchie, Perez, Atsu; Joselu.

Subs: Darlow (gk), Clark, Gamez, Diame, Merino, Murphy, Gayle.