Rafa Benitez has been looking forward to the Manchester City match.

After Saturday there is a two week international break and no doubt the NUFC manager is counting down the minutes until that final whistle on Saturday.

Never say never but Newcastle have lost the last nine Premier League games at the Etihad and have conceded 22 goals in the last five of them.

The bookies make the Magpies 28/1 shots to win and I think that is a little on the short side…

If Rafa Benitez is to pull off a serious shock, he will have to do it without a number of first team players.

Florian Lejeune has been badly missed and remains out until sometime in 2019, whilst the manager confirms other automatic choices have added to his injury list.

Both Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are also sidelined, meaning the squad is further stretched.

Squad player Isaac Hayden is still suspended, whilst Rafa confirmed Manquillo is back training but won’t be in the matchday squad on Saturday.

As for media claims that Mike Ashley has been deeply upset because Rafa hasn’t invited him along to the training ground, the Newcastle manager says he is welcome any time (…to come along and see just how far behind the times it is!).

Rafa Benitez:

“The owner is the owner. No problem if he wants to come. He can come here whenever he wants.

“Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie will not be available but Jamaal Lascelles will be in the squad.

“Manquillo was training today but it’s still too soon for him.

“We are where a lot of people were expecting…

“The main thing is: we have to be mentally strong enough to understand this is the situation and it’s a difficult period.

“Like last year, we were in a bad run, then we started doing well and finished tenth.

“You have to approach every game tying to get a result and trying to win, we were very close to getting something against Spurs and Chelsea.

“(Asked about Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles clashing) As a manager you want professionals who care.

“Every year you have two or three situations (like that) because we have competitive professionals who want to win.

“I think it’s very positive.

“Nobody knows our players better than us.

“I have a lot of confidence in them and I’m very proud of them

“Reality is that we have difficult games and we need time to get players back to what we had last year.

“The team spirit is fine.”

  • Kenny

    Rafa should make a formal invitation to the owner to attend training and a game,
    put him in a lift at St James with that mad f##ker from Monkseaton,

    • Kneebotherm8

      It’d be like the mutual appreciation society……….you’d never get them oot…….

    • Ron

      You might find that they are both one and the same person.

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      We will be there on Saturday supporting the team one hundred strong the Monkseaton Magpies we live in hope for a two nil win.

      • Danimal

        Do you mean a two nil home win? Damage limitation indeed.

  • killymag

    you would not be able to stand up in the lift with those two fuc__rs in for sp_nk

  • Scott Robinson

    Rafa should invite him to an open day and request the fans present and able to ask both questions. Monk can ask Mike the serious questions like what aftershave he wears.

  • fistsofsteel2

    I like the look of Perez and Rondon up front. Diame obviously has to play….probably next to Ki or Longstaff. I’d drop Kenedy and play Murphy and Atsu. Defence would be Lascelles and Fernandez in centre with Dummet and Yedlin as full backs.
    So 4-4-2, make a game of it, press them, and get the ball forward as often as possible.

    • Ram Kishore

      No way Atsu .. Both Walker and Mendy will knock him down with esse the moment Atsu touches the ball.. Kennedy and Murphy my first choice.. Diame and ki. I dont see perez starting .. Rondon alone but he may play a bit less forward

      • Wor Lass

        Perez has to start – he`s created dangerous situations in every game. Agree with the rest, though.

        • Ram Kishore

          Then we would have to ho with back four ig.. there is a possibility of back four today.. Jamaal might be back.. Fernandez may play alongside him. To play him today could have been the reason why Rafa subbed him against Nottingham..
          Both Yedlin and Dummet have been rested.. Schar got his game time to better himself.. so schar and Clark could be rested.
          If your stars are shining we could be playing with back four and perez will play today.. i am still not convinced with Ki.. he doesnt track back much .. he just leaves it to others making it difficult in the middle for Diame to do all the work ..If longstaff gets more better he could outperform Ki.

          • Wor Lass

            Fernandez and Jamaal will be a good combination, I think.

          • Ram Kishore

            You got your wish wor lass.. perez on

    • Danimal

      Is David McCreery fit?

  • Foggy

    Why on earth would anybody want Atsu in the team? Offers nothing other than trying to run up his own ar$e. Oh, wait a minute, that’s Kennedy. No, its both of them.

  • Wor Lass

    At least that`s good news about Manquillo.