By Russell Edge

4th Dec, 2017 | 7:24am

Benitez reveals critical deadline in handing Newcastle major boost

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has revealed that all three of the club’s injury layoffs are closing in on a return ahead of the club’s clash with Leicester City next weekend.

The Magpies have been forced to do without club captain and defensive star Jamaal Lascelles and fleet-footed winger Christian Atsu for their last four games due to injury, while Paul Dummett has been ruled out of action since limping out of the opening game of the season after just seven minutes.

However Benitez says that while he will have to assess all of their situations this week, two of the trio were “very close” to returning, which will hand the Magpies a major boost after six games without a win.

Revealing that Tuesday was the critical deadline for the trio, he told the Shields Gazette: ““They’re closer, but we will see on Tuesday how they feel.

“I don’t know (if they will be available against Leicester). Atsu was very close, Dummett was very close and Jamaal was better, but we’ll see how he feels during the week.”

All three of the layoffs would likely be regulars in the starting XI under Benitez, with Lascelles and Atsu having appeared in every one of the club’s games prior to picking up their injuries, both of which came in the defeat to Bournemouth.

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Since then the Magpies have lost to Manchester United, Watford and Chelsea, picking up a solitary point from a possible 12 with a 2-2 draw against West Brom.

They will play host to Leicester on Saturday, with Benitez and his men sitting in 15th place in the table, five points clear of Crystal Palace in 18th, the last of the relegation spots.

In other Newcastle United news, a crucial update on a takeover claim has been delivered.

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