A bit of a blip for Rafa Benitez and his players in the past week and no let-up in the games coming thick and fast.

A busy December and then possibly an even more challenging January, as four players (Atsu, Lazaar, Mbemba and Diame) are set to go to the African Cup of Nations finals, as well as the possibility of Jonjo Shelvey being suspended.

The transfer window will of course be open but will Rafa Benitez also look at his current players out on loan as potential reinforcements?

As well as more junior/inexperienced players (Macauley Gillesphey, Alex Gilliead etc), these 11 are all out on loan from Newcastle at the minute.

After each player’s name is the club where they are currently at and when the loan period finishes:

Tim Krul (Ajax) June 2017 

Kevin Mbabu (BSC Young Boys) June 2017 

Siem de Jong (PSV Eindhoven) June 2017

Henri Saivet (St. Etienne) June 2017

Haris Vuckic (Bradford City) January 2017

Florian Thauvin (Marseille) June 2017 (Clause already triggered for permanent deal)

Sammy Ameobi (Bolton Wanderers) January 2017

Emmanuel Riviere (Osasuna) June 2017

Adam Armstrong (Barnsley) January 2017 

Ivan Toney (Shrewsbury Town) January 2017            

Jamie Sterry (Coventry) January 2017

Obviously Florian Thauvin can be ruled out, then you also have Krul, de Jong, Saivet, Mbabu and Riviere all not due to return until after the season has ended.

Which leaves us with Armstrong, Sterry, Ameobi, Vuckic and Toney.

Obviously injuries could change Rafa’s decisions but the four of them playing in League One have already been allowed to be cup-tied by Newcastle, so can’t take part in any of United’s FA Cup matches in January, or later this season.

As for their form:

Ivan Toney has scored five goals in the league to be top scorer for a struggling Shrewsbury, though has picked up twice as many cards.

Jamie Sterry has done well according to reports, making 13 league starts although again, it is in a struggling Coventry side.

Haris Vuckic has only made three league starting elevens at Bradford and very hard to see any role for him at Newcastle now.

Sammy Ameobi as always is an enigma, coming into form recently for Bolton who are flying high in second, scoring three cracking goals including one at the weekend in the FA Cup from 25 yards.

Maybe predictably, Adam Armstrong would almost certainly be the one who fans would wonder if there is a use for.

After a dramatic debut full season of 20 goals at Coventry, the Geordie striker is finding it tougher at Barnsley this season in the Championship. The 19 year old making nine league starts so far and three off the bench, with three goals.

A feature of Rafa’s strategy this season has been to build a first team squad of older and more experienced players to get Newcastle out of the Championship. The only real exceptions having been 21 year olds Isaac Hayden and Rolando Aarons (to a lesser extent).

The most likely response to any weaknesses Rafa Benitez sees in his squad, will almost certainly be met by action in the January transfer market.

Though of course he could take the opportunity  throughout next month to watch Armstrong and other returning loan players in training, before deciding what to do with them after the transfer window closes.

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