According to the Northern Echo’s Paul Fraser, Rafa Benitez is in ‘no rush’ to bring Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey back into the fold following recent injuries – suggesting the pair will NOT feature in Monday night’s trip to Burnley.
The duo came off in the home win over Watford earlier this month, and neither took part in yesterday’s training sessions.
The reporter claims that both have ‘taken it easy’ over the international break, with Benitez preferring for them to return to full fitness at their own pace – with Fabian Schar and Ki Sung-yueng proving in the last two games that they are more than capable alternatives.
Here’s a snippet from the Northern Echo’s piece:
‘RAFA BENITEZ is not desperate to rush Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles back into Premier League action against Burnley on Monday because he would rather they returned to full fitness.
‘The pair have taken it easy over the international break in a bid to make sure their respective calf and shoulder problems have gone.
‘Benitez will leave it late before making a decision on whether Shelvey and Lascelles can travel to Lancashire with the squad.’
The last line probably sums it up. Yes Rafa may make a late decision, but it’ll be a decision as to whether they can travel – never mind whether or not they can start.
At a push it sounds like they could travel and make the bench, but I really don’t see Rafa taking any risks here – especially when neither took part in training yesterday.
That being said, we could be in safe hands with Schar and Ki – and if you’d said you’d happily have them play ahead of Lascelles and Shelvey a month ago, you’d have got some funny looks; which shows just how well the incoming duo have done in the last two.
It also sounds like Dummett will miss out. This is more of a concern given our lack of natural replacements, but, out of the two, we are the team with the momentum coming into this one, so we must still fancy our chances.