Perfect lift as Rafa Benitez welcomes back two injured stars
Great news at last for Rafa Benitez after a nine day stretch that has seen Newcastle pick up only one point from nine and watched Brighton clinch automatic promotion with three weeks of the season remaining.
The games against Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Leeds have seen the United team struggle at both ends of the pitch.
Six goals conceded and only two scored in over four and a half hours of football, has been set against a backdrop of some shambolic defending and lack of cutting edge up front.
However, help could be close at hand with the Chronicle reporting that both Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark are now able to join in full training and are set to be available against Preston on Monday night.
If Huddersfield fail to beat Fulham on Saturday, a win at St James Park against Preston would see Rafa Benitez and his team get automatic promotion.
Whilst the problems recently have been caused by a number of factors, missing player of the season Ciaran Clark and top goalscorer Dwight Gayle must be at the top of that list.
If fully recovered, Rafa must seriously consider throwing the pair straight into action.
A win for Huddersfield on Saturday would take them four points behind Newcastle and with the same number of games to play.
This then meaning a defeat to Preston would allow David Wagner’s team to close within one point if also winning their game in hand on Tuesday night at Wolves.
Saturday could also see Reading close to within three points if winning at Nottingham Forest, though they would then have only two games left compared to Newcastle’s two, plus Newcastle having a massive goal difference advantage over both Huddersfield and Reading.
All the players need to do though is focus on their own display against Preston and if they play like they did against Leeds then they surely won’t go far wrong.
However, having the excellent calming presence of Clark at the back would be a massive help, as would having a Dwight Gayle who could have finished the host of chances created against Leeds.
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