Rafa Benitez has at last had some good news.
The Newcastle boss confirming on Friday afternoon that Salomon Rondon is in the squad for Saturday’s game.
Whether that will equal the number nine starting is a different question.
Rafa almost always errs on the side of caution, so it will likely be a place on the bench.
However, with so few decent striking options and Ayoze Perez being so poor this season, Rafa Benitez could just possibly spring a surprise and throw Rondon straight in IF he is fit enough.
The Newcastle boss also confirmed that Ciaran Clark is now available again, which means only Jamie Sterry and Florian Lejeune are still injured.
A win could see Newcastle climb out of the relegation zone, whilst a defeat could leave the bottom of the table looking pretty horrendous, with NUFC potentially at least five points from safety already.
Rafa Benitez says he is both ‘optimistic and realistic’ and that the squad simply has to carry on and try to get that first win and hopefully kick things off.
Watford and Bournemouth have both done well so far but if Newcastle could beat Southampton, then surely we could hope for a decent chance of more points with those two heading to St James Park in the following pair of matches.
Rafa Benitez speaking to media before Southampton match:
“Salomon Rondon is available. He is in the squad.
“It’s a long-distance race, and we have to carry on. I am optimistic and realistic.
“The main thing for now is to focus on Southampton, to focus on the next game.
“Our away fans are fantastic and we know they will be supporting the team.
“Salomon Rondon coming back gives us more competition, and that has to be good news for us.
“I’d like to see the team play at the level we played at against Manchester United at Old Trafford – the chances that we had, the belief, the determination.
“The team is working so hard.
“We are so close to winning the first game, and we have to believe we can do it.
“Our job now is to keep encouraging the players to do what they can do, and hopefully we can be successful.”