Rafa Benitez has frequently said that he built a large squad at Newcastle in the summer, as it was essential for the club when dealing with the demanding 46 match Championship season.
The United boss mindful that injuries and suspensions could play havoc and the rotation of the squad being the main tactic in attempting to protect the squad from those excesses.
Up to this point injuries to key players have been successfully kept to a minimum and the only player suspended so far has been Vurnon Anita, following his red card in the Wolves defeat.
However, Matt Ritchie has fallen foul of the five yellow cards rule and will miss the Cardiff match on a one game suspension.
Rafa Benitez though has taken this in his stride, saying:
“It is always a problem when you lose an important player (like Matt Ritchie) but at the same time, it is the opportunity for others to show they are good enough.
“They have been doing that this season and I think it’s an opportunity for another to show the level that he has.”
Rafa surprised everybody when playing Christian Atsu ahead of Ritchie at Rotherham and the Ghanaian winger put in a man of the match performance, topped off with a superb winning goal.
He looks the obvious replacement but another interesting alternative is that the Manager could always play both Yedlin and Anita on the right, with the USA international in an advanced role.
As for Dwight Gayle, he was left on the bench for the Preston cup match and then picked up a ‘little’ hamstring problem according to Rafa Benitez, meaning he missed the game at Deepdale and Mitrovic continued from where he left off in the 6-0 League Cup game, scoring another two goals and winning the game for United.
The United boss says that he is still keeping a watching brief on Gayle and will see closer to the game how the striker feels.
It would surely be a major surprise though if Rafa Benitez decided to play the Championship’s top scorer, even if Gayle himself gave the thumbs up.
With a 15 day gap until the Leeds match after Saturday, Benitez’ careful management of his players and their injuries, will surely see Dwight Gayle on the bench at best.
Especially when you factor in the fact that Newcastle fans will be keen to see if a certain somebody is still ‘on fire’ after four goals in his last two matches.
“He (Dwight Gayle) was training (ahead of the Preston match last Saturday) but we still have to be a little bit cautious with him.
“We have some time and it depends on how he feels – at the moment he’s training and improving but it will depend on how he feels.”