Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has delivered a worrying update on the fitness of a trio of the club’s stars after securing victory over West Ham on Saturday.
Goals from Henri Saivet, Mohamed Diame and Christian Atsu were enough to secure the three points at the London Stadium, but the Spanish boss was forced to do without several of his senior stars through both suspension and injury.
Jonjo Shelvey was serving the final game of his two-match ban, while defender Florian Lejeune and midfielders Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden were both completely absent from the squad, the duo replaced by the goal scoring Diame and Saivet.
Delivering an update on those missing through injury, Benitez revealed that he was not certain they would be ready to return for the club’s clash against Manchester City on the 27th December, which would be a huge blow to the club’s hopes of ending the Citizens’ winning streak.
Quoted by BBC journalist Matthew Raisbeck on his personal Twitter account, Benitez said: “Mikel and Hayden: one in the calf and the other in the top of the hamstring. Lejeune was a kick on the foot.
“We have to wait to see if they’ll be available (for Man City). Lejeune, I don’t think so but the others, maybe.”
Rafa on injuries: "Mikel and Hayden: one in the calf and the other in the top of the hamstring. Lejeune was a kick on the foot. We have to wait to see if they'll be available (for Man City). Lejeune, I don't think so but the others, maybe." #NUFC
— Matthew Raisbeck (@raisbeck10) December 23, 2017
Both Merino and Hayden have been regulars in the starting XI for the Magpies this season, while the French defender had appeared to be Benitez’s preferred partner of Jamaal Lascelles in the heart of the Magpies’ defence.
However the Spanish midfielder and French defender have both suffered with injury problems this season, and Benitez will be hoping to have them available against the league leaders.
In other Newcastle United news, Alan Shearer was delighted with one specific aspect of the win against the Hammers.