Rafa Benitez was handed yet another midfield blow during the 4-1 defeat to Man Utd over the weekend, with Isaac Hayden’s fifth yellow card of the season meaning he will now miss Saturday’s home game against Watford.
Given Mikel Merino is deemed unlikely to be fit in time and Christian Atsu set to miss out once again, Hayden’s absence hands Benitez another headache ahed of this weekend’s crucial game.
Merino is stepping up his recovery from a back injury and is believed to have an outside chance of making the game – but only if he comes through the upcoming week of training unscathed.
With Merino, Atsu and Hayden’s likely absences in mind, Benitez may have to choose between out of favour pair Mo Diame and Henri Saivet to partner Jonjo Shelvey in midfield, with Jacob Murphy and Rolando Aarons pushing to fill Atsu’s spot out wide.
Who would you opt to play with Hayden’s absence in mind?