You have got to feel for Rafa Benitez, he woke up on Wednesday morning feeling sorry for a number of players dealing with headaches, only to later discover that it is he who has been left with the biggest headache.

Just as his squad was coming together a little bit, the Newcastle boss has been hit with both Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic missing the Brighton game.

After the Cheltenham game, Rafa Benitez had said ‘I don’t think there will be a problem’ when asked about the injuries to Mitrovic, Gayle and Perez during the game, though he did he was concerned for Rolando Aarons after he was stretchered off.

Rafa said that after the final whistle he had spoken to the three players and they were ‘feeling better’ and ‘hopefully they are all ok for Saturday.

The United manager referred to the three players having ‘concussions’ but I took that as simply a general reference to an injury to the head, which I do think was Rafa’s meaning as well.

It must have been as much of a shock to him as it was to the rest of us when he found out the bad news, with Mitrovic and Gayle actually having ‘concussions’.

Ayoze Perez should be fine, he said when interviewed that it was a cut to his ear, rather than a more serious blow to the head, that caused him to be bandaged up on Tuesday night.

Newcastle’s head of sports medicine (read below) has said that with confirmation that Mitrovic and Gayle do have concussions, they have to follow FA guidelines which state ‘…a phased ‘return to play’ protocol over a period of at least six days before players resume competitive football.’

With Brighton visiting on Saturday, it could hardly happened at a worse time…

Rafa Benitez after Newcastle 2 Cheltenham 0 Tuesday 23 August:

“Really pleased with the result but we’re disappointed with the injuries, three concussions, though I don’t think they will be a problem.

“I spoke to them all at the end of the game and they were feeling better, hopefully they are all ok for Saturday.

“We were trying to protect Dwight Gayle because he had played the last few games and Mitrovic needed match fitness but we had to change it around quickly.

“We won and hopefully they will be fine, though we are really upset for Rolando.

“He has a problem with his foot so we will have to wait to see what the doctor says, this is the most serious of the injuries.”

Newcastle United statement Thursday 25 August:

Newcastle United can confirm that Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle will miss the Club’s Sky Bet Championship fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, after both players suffered concussions during the Magpies’ midweek EFL Cup game against Cheltenham Town.

The Club is adhering to the FA’s Concussion Guidelines, which stipulate a phased ‘return to play’ protocol over a period of at least six days before players resume competitive football.

Paul Catterson, Newcastle’s head of sports medicine and science, said: “The treatment and management of concussion in sport has received deserved attention in recent years.

“We have to adhere to the guidelines set out by the FA in line with other competitive sports, which rightly puts the safety and health of players first.”

Here is a definition of what a ‘concussion’ actually is:

‘Concussion is a serious brain injury that can occur in both non-contact and contact sports.

This injury results from the rapid translational (linear front-to-back, side-to-side) or rotational (angular) movement of the multi-lobular brain within the skull. Such rapid movement can result in damage or disruption of the brain cell structure and metabolism.

Altered brain function may result from this trauma and be expressed in a variety of physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound), physical signs (e.g., loss of balance and coordination), cognitive deficits (e.g., memory and concentration losses) or emotional changes (e.g., depression and irritability).

These signs or symptoms may occur immediately after the injury, or onset may be delayed.

The majority of concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness. If a player is suspected of having a concussion, he/she must be removed from the field of play and properly evaluated by a medical professional experienced in concussion diagnosis and treatment.’