Speaking to the press today ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Liverpool, Rafa Benitez has offered some good and bad news on the fitness front, with Dwight Gayle fit and ready to play tomorrow, but confirming that Jonjo Shelvey will miss out with a knee problem.
Rafa also confirmed that Slimani is ‘working hard’ but unavailable, whilst Matt Ritchie has been deemed ‘fine’ to play tomorrow.
It was hinted that this would be the case based on training pictures that were shared yesterday, with Shelvey nowhere to be seen whilst Gayle was involved as normal.
Shelvey is still awaiting the results of scans to determine the extent of the knee injury he picked up last weekend, so it seems he won’t be risked, while Gayle has clearly overcome the ‘tightness’ he was feeling in his hamstring in the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.
Here’s what Rafa’s had to say in the last few moments:
“Jonjo Shelvey has a knock to his knee and he will not be available. We are waiting on the results of the scans.
“We don’t know how serious it is. He wants to train and play but we have to check and see exactly how he is”
“Gayle is fine, Ritchie is fine. Slimani is working hard to regain his fitness in training.”
Hopefully Gayle’s hamstring holds up tomorrow, but the big concern is what the results of Shelvey’s scan will show.
Mikel Merino is a more than capable replacement, however it would be a huge blow to have Shelvey sidelined for any length of time at this stage of the season.