Rafa Benitez has just conducted his Aston Villa press conference.
In preparation for the trip to the West Midlands, the Newcastle boss revealed he was now (relatively) spoilt for choice at the back.
Kevin Mbabu returned to the bench last week and whilst Rafa confirmed Fabricio Coloccini remains unavailable, the more positive news is that Daryl Janmaat returns from his injuries suffered on the pitch and in the dressing room at Southampton.
In addition, Vurnon Anita has also been declared fit to play, having limped off at the end of the win over Crystal Palace last Saturday.
Interesting to see who gets the nod at right-back…and indeed whether Rafa makes other changes, after going for a very similar starting eleven with minimal changes in recent weeks.
Rafa Benitez also said at his Aston Villa press conference that he sees a difficult game at Villa Park and that he has delivered an important message to his team in advance of the game…’no complacency and concentrate’.
Newcastle have picked up an unfortunate habit of conceding early goals and whilst they kept a clean sheet against Palace, only a saving tackle from Lascelles kept it level in the very early stages.
Prior to that game, United went behind early to both Liverpool and Manchester City and the last thing they want to do is give Aston Villa any encouragement whatsoever.
“Anita is fine, Janmaat is available. Coloccini is still not available.
“The mood is very positive. The players are happy & training well. Everyone has the right mentality to approach a difficult game.
“The players want to play and are convinced that they can win. At the moment we are going in the right direction.
“We have an important message for the players this week – no complacency and concentrate. We have to be focussed.
“I do not see an easy game. I see a difficult game. They (Villa) need a win because of the fans, the club and the history.