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Rafa Benitez confirms 5 Newcastle United players ruled out of Manchester City match – Limits options

8 months ago
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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.”

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