Rafa Benitez explores his options
Rafa Benitez has been talking about his options ahead of Aston Villa on Monday.
The United boss confirming that Isaac Hayden would be missing for the next month after an ankle operation.
Interesting to see what team he picks and formation but Rafa has said that the loss of Hayden is counterbalanced by the imminent return of Vurnon Anita.
Both players actually picked up their injuries in the same game, Isaac Hayden forced off during the 2-1 win at Brentford and Vurnon Anita actually replacing him, only to then get injured himself and Grant Hanley coming on for the Dutchman.
Whilst Anita has then been missing since that match, it was later revealed that Hayden had ‘played through the pain barrier’ as his ankle problem wouldn’t go away, although he had been left on the bench in these last two games.
Rafa Benitez revealed that Anita had returned to training yesterday (Friday) but not the full session, so despite optimistic noises from the Manager it would surely be very surprising if the former Ajax player was involved, even on the bench.
Apart from Aarons, Hayden and probably Anita, Rafa has a full squad to choose from, so there is no way he will rush back Vurnon Anita straight away.
I think Isaac Hayden is one of Newcastle’s best 11 players but the team have done ok in his absence at Wolves and Norwich, so no need for rash decisions.
Jack Colback has started both matches and whilst not really impressing, he can do a job, though personally I thought when Mohamed Diame came on at Carrow Road in place of Colback, it made United much more of a threat with his mobility and pace alongside Shelvey.
With Gayle set to start and Shelvey & Ritchie looking sure starters, for the other three spaces in the front six you have the likes of Diame, Gouffran, Colback, Atsu, Perez and potentially Anita, to choose from.
“Isaac Hayden had a little problem with his ankle that we were trying to manage but in the end, he was not comfortable with it and had to have the operation.
“He was doing well and was a key player for us but now we have to cope with the others.
“Vurnon Anita trained today (Friday), not a full training session, but he has been working with us and will give different options.
“Anita did part of the training session and he could maybe be ready for Monday but if not, he could maybe be ready for the bench.
“We are losing one player that was playing but we are gaining one (Anita) that was doing well (until picking up an injury).
“He was playing right full-back but is a player who can play in three positions and understands the game.”
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