Rafa Benitez faced the media today ahead of Newcastle United’s tough away trip to Sheffield Wednesday this weekend with the televised clash at Hillsborough being the Championship’s late kick off tomorrow.
Without further adieu, here’s a summary of all the key points we’ve taken from the gaffer’s pre-match press conference today:
- DeAndre Yedlin (thigh), Ciaran Clark (knee), Jack Colback (illness) and Rolando Aarons remain OUT for the Magpies.
- Yedlin, Clark and Aarons all back in full training and ‘close’ to a return but won’t be risked.
- Isaac Hayden also likely to be missing again tomorrow – ‘improving’ but likely to miss out.
- Mbemba has been ‘training really well’ over the past 2 weeks and Benitez is pleased with his attitude of late and performance against Burton, suggesting he ‘could play again’ tomorrow.
- Hanley earned praise for being ‘very positive in the training sessions and the dressing room’ but Rafa believes Mbemba deserved his chance in the team.
- Benitez full of praise for Matt Ritchie’s attitude. Rafa says his efforts are contagious, seeing players follow his lead on the pitch.
- Rafa expecting a ‘tough’ game against an ‘experienced’ Sheffield Wednesday side tomorrow, acknowledging that they are a good side who almost got promoted last year.
- The gaffer deflected talk of referees and NUFC accounts, preferring to ‘focus’ on winning the six game ‘mini league’ that remains, starting with an important game at Hillsborough tomorrow.
The boss appears to be as focused as ever after back-to-back wins, with tomorrow’s game likely to be the toughest test in our six fixtures that remain.
With several injured players set to miss out yet again, it will be another test of the squad’s metal, but, with the finish line nearing and a return to the Premier League in site, I fully expect the side to put in another gritty display.
Howay the lads!
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