Rafa Benitez has indicate he is unlikely to make many changes to his team on Wednesday.
The manager confirmed that as well as Christian Atsu, Ciaran Clark was also still unavailable, two players who would have been strong possibilities to freshen things up.
However, as it stands, very difficult to see many/any obvious options.
Manquillo and Murphy were poor at Watford, whilst on the bench were Haidara, Hayden and Joselu, none of whom have done anything to suggest they can step up.
Mikel Merino is maybe the only one but he hasn’t been available recently and only got four minutes at Watford, so doubtful whether he is capable of starting.
Rafa started the press conference by wishing Sir Alex Ferguson well, before he moved on to talk about the club and team.
Yet again asked about progress on his future, yet again answering that nothing had changed.
However, he added, and you can take this any way you want, that ‘we do have plenty of time this week to talk.’
Whether that is a none too subtle idea of a deadline or not, remains to be seen. With a month now gone since Newcastle reached safety, we all know that this is simply all about Mike Ashley changing his stance and giving the manager more backing.
Rafa will be away in London the middle of this week and all he needs to hear is that the owner is willing to work with him, rather than the constant friction of these past 18 months or so.
Two tough games against Tottenham and Chelsea this week, no doubt Rafa will be happy with simply better performances, even if they end up adding no more points to the total.
Rafa Benitez pre- Tottenham press conference:
“I would like to start by wishing a speedy recovery to Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I just want to wish him all the best.”
Asked what the situation is with his contract talks…:
“In terms of conversations with the club, still the same.
“We have no news.
“I am not thinking of a time frame…but we do have plenty of time this week to talk.”
“So happy to be safe [already], we have nothing to lose and so we need to play with the same freedom and intensity we did in the games before this [losing] run.
“We knew when Tottenham was playing in the cup, it could be a bad date for us.
“We knew Tottenham and Chelsea could be fighting for something and the reality is, they are.”
“It’s no secret we are happy with Martin Dubravka.
“We have the option [to buy], so it is an easy one.
“Kenedy has done really well for us. We will talk to Chelsea about his future.”
Premier League Manager of the season nomination:
“It’s important for anyone if someone from outside can see the good job you have done.
“We have great staff who have done a lot to help.”
Tottenham v Newcastle v Match Betting:
All Tottenham v Newcastle betting HERE