The Newcastle injuries situation looked to be clearing up perfectly in the run up to the game at Bournemouth.
The two week gap due to no FA Cup involvement in February (as usual), meant a chance for knocks to be shaken off and Islam Slimani to be got just right to make his debut.
Rafa Benitez having said after the win over Manchester United that Slimani had almost made it for that game.
Jesus Gamez was the only player still definitely out even he was said to be close to returning, even though unlikely to be used, giving Rafa a full squad to choose from.
Islam Slimani then broke down in training with his recurring thigh problem and with the United boss saying last weekend he would now miss at least a couple of weeks, the Algerian striker is set to not be involved until the last day of March at the earliest, when Newcastle play Huddersfield.
The postponement of the Spurs match meaning Newcastle have a three week gap after next Saturday’s match with Southampton at St James Park.
At Bournemouth, we then had Dwight Gayle forced off with a tight hamstring after putting Newcastle two up, then the start of the week the club announced (see below) that Jonjo Shelvey had suffered a knee injury and was to be assessed and scanned this week.
On top of that, Craig Hope of The Mail revealed that Shelvey had already been having painkilling injections for a groin problem.
We now have a little more information/clue as to what to expect though at Liverpool, with photos released of the squad training on Thursday.
When interviewed (see below) this week, Dwight Gayle had seemed in a good mood and the training images showed him working with the rest of the squad in preparation for Liverpool. So I think we can be pretty confident that our top scorer (five goals!) will be involved on Saturday at Anfield.
However, Jonjo Shelvey was nowhere to be seen in the training images and surely won’t be risked regardless of what the scan shows this week.
Realistically, Newcastle will do very very well to get anything from the Liverpool match and with Rafa always going on the side of caution anyway, won’t be taking any risks this weekend, especially with a crucial game against relegation rivals Southampton next Saturday.
Dwight Gayle interviewed this week following the Bournemouth match:
“If you don’t take your chances then they are going to make you pay for it.
“It has happened this season to other people and I am sure it will happen again, but the boys are together, we’re going to look forward to the next game (against Liverpool).
“Over the last 10 games we have only lost two (both to Man City) and we are improving week in, week out.
“We’re just trying to improve as players – keep picking up the points we need to stay up.”
Newcastle United Official Statement early this week on Jonjo Shelvey:
Jonjo Shelvey suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s draw at AFC Bournemouth.
The midfielder will be further assessed and scanned this week.
Shelvey – who turned 26 on Tuesday – has made 23 appearances for the Magpies so far this season, scoring once.