According to the Chronicle, Rafa Benitez is sweating on the fitness of Ciaran Clark as the club are await news on the knee injury he picked up in the 1-1 draw at Palace – with it also being yet to be confirmed if new-boy Islam Slimani will be fit enough to start for Sunday’s visit of Man Utd.
Clark was the hero and villain during Sunday’s game, giving away the penalty for their goal, but also putting in some crucial last ditch blocks to preserve out point.
He did injure himself in the process however, with him struggling to complete the last few minutes of the game as a result. Normally he would’ve came off, but with all 3 subs used up and us facing a Crystal Palace onslaught in the final few moments, he soldiered on (even though I remember seeing Dummett signalling to the bench that the centre-back needed to come off!)
Here’s what the Chronicle’s Chris Waugh had to say about Clark’s fitness:
“The one big injury concern after Sunday’s game was how bad Ciaran Clark’s apparent knee injury was. Clearly the centre-back was struggling at the end of the game, and he is being assessed this week.
“Rafa Benitez was hopeful that the injury was not “as bad as it looked” and suggested the defender should be back sooner rather than later but, with knee injuries, it is always difficult to tell.
“It is important Florian Lejeune is back fit, because Clark could well be a doubt for this weekend’s game.”
We’re still unsure on Islam Slimani. Rafa said post-Palace that he was close to making it, suggesting he should be fine for Sunday, however we are yet to hear any update since, making us wonder if he will be ready to play from the start in a game where his presence up top and involvement from the off could be huge.
On Clark, Florian Lejeune and Chancel Mbemba are able replacements, however both have played very little football recently, so throwing them in the deep end against such a dangerous Man Utd attack would be unideal.