The international break looked a great chance to regroup and an opportunity for Rafa Benitez to get a number of Newcastle players back up to their best ahead of this promotion run-in.

With seven games coming up in April, plus the final game of the season on 7 May, the last the United boss needed was any more injury worries.

However, a number of Newcastle players returned to Tyneside with injury problems rather than being able to play for their countries.

The good news on Thursday afternoon is that two of them are now set to be available on Saturday.

The Chronicle say that their information is that Daryl Murphy has had no further problems with his calf problem after returning to training, plus Grant Hanley has also trained with no more issues from his ankle injury which forced him out of the Scotland squad.

For much of the season the pair have been on the fringes of the squad but both started the last game at Birmingham.

With Ciaran Clark set to be missing again, Hanley is set to start once again alongside Jamaal Lascelles, the pair helping United to a clean sheet at St.Andrew’s.

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez will now have an interesting dilemma up front.

He started Daryl Murphy at Birmingham, with Dwight Gayle dropping to the bench after struggling a little after injury.

However, the smart money must be on Gayle starting on Saturday, whoever else is selected in whatever position.

Some fans will continue to hope for two up front despite Rafa’s repeated comments that he doesn’t see that as his ideal way to play.

An extra positive is that Aleksandar Mitrovic returns full of confidence after a superb goal against Georgia which helped Serbia to the top of their qualifying group for the World Cup, it also meant six goals in his last six internationals.

REMAINING NEWCASTLE MATCHES

Saturday 1 April – Newcastle v Wigan (3pm).

Wednesday 5 April – Newcastle v Burton (7.45pm)

Saturday 8 April – Sheffield Wednesday v Newcastle (5.30pm) SKY SPORTS

Friday 14 April – Newcastle v Leeds (7.45pm) SKY SPORTS

Monday 17 April – Ipswich v Newcastle (3pm)

Monday 24 April – Newcastle v Preston (7.45pm) SKY SPORTS

Friday 28 April  – Cardiff v Newcastle (7.45pm) SKY SPORTS

Sunday 7 May – Newcastle v Barnsley (12 noon)