Rafa Benitez heads into Saturday full of confidence thanks to nine points out of nine in November.

The Newcastle boss a hot favourite for the November PL Manager of the month award.

The victories having an extra edge of satisfaction as they have been achieved despite injuries to a number of first team players.

In fact, as the injury list as grown this month, the better the team have played.

The game against West Ham could at long last see the Newcastle manager in a position where he has to make a number of positive team selections to face the Hammers.

The club having released a gallery of photos showing the players training ahead of the weekend’s match and pretty much good news all round for the manager.

Florian Lejeune was prominent in the training shots and the other long-term injured NUFC defender, Jamie Sterry, is also now back. Neither player will be available for West Ham but good to see they are both training on the way back to full fitness.

Jonjo Shelvey only made the bench at Burnley, no doubt a combination of him not being fully fit and Diame & Ki having done well against Bournemouth, leaving Rafa with the easy choice of restricting Shelvey to the bench.

With another week of training though, barring mishaps the midfielder will be available for first team action in this next match, if selected.

Similarly, Karl Darlow was also training today, the elbow injury that caused him to miss Burnley, obviously not proving serious. So it would appear he will also return to the squad.

The club also featured Jamaal Lascelles and Yoshinori Muto prominently in the training pictures. Rafa said last Friday that they were back in training but hadn’t managed a full session so far at that point, though he still left open the possibility of them making the Burnley squad.

With this week behind them, like Shelvey we can surely see them also available for selection this Saturday.

The only first team squad player seemingly missing from training was Paul Dummett, with still no word from the club as to how serious that hamstring injury is. Needless to say, there looks to be little/no chance of him being in the squad against West Ham.



  • Themoscow72

    Yes Rafa has a big problem who to leave out the squad on Saturday and when Dummett and Lejeune are back major issues for him. Is there any need to spend in January perhaps two players tops a full back and a centre forward .

    • Kenny

      Rafa has been trying to replace the hapless Perez for 2 years and
      Diame needs to be replaced as well.

      • glassjawsh-got-banned

        we need 3 £15 million+ players minimum. None of whom are fullbacks…

        • Mike D

          And a full back.

          • Pezza

            Which side? Dummett is as good as any outside the top 6. Yedlin is improving, I’d had replaced Yedlin in the summer but proved to he able to.learn.

          • Mike D

            Manquillo needs replacing if we can’t get better than Yedlin or Dummett. I like both full backs but the back up options are poor. It’s ok having wingers as wing backs in a five man defence but not as full backs in a four man defence.

          • Pezza

            Good luvk

          • Mike D

            I agree but fatty is tight as. We’ll probably get nowt.

          • Pezza

            Because it’s not quite as simple as you think. We’re

        • Pezza

          Who are they? Which position? I can see one player struggling right now but I think he’s underrated

      • Wor Lass

        I can see us getting a left back and maybe making Rondon`s move permanent to free up another PL loan – but maybe not even that.

        • Pezza

          Why drop Dummett? Who is better than him outside the top 6.

          • Wor Lass

            It`s not about dropping Dummy (I think he`s great, always have) it`s about having a credible alternative if/when he`s not available.

          • Pezza

            Not sure

    • Mike D

      Do you not want the team to improve? Let’s say Mike Ashley decided to spend some of the club’s money, would you not want him to get a better attacking midfielder too?

      • Wezza

        He is a troll. He trolls here every weekday saying things like:
        “Mike is a nice chap I’d buy him a pint”
        “Long live Mike”
        “Rafa still gets every penny” (after that summer window”
        “Mike saved our club”
        “Mike has never taken a penny”
        Excetera.
        He and his troll buddy have been banned in the past and will be banned again. Best just to block them for now. They keep trying to respond to me lol. Sad trolls.

        • Mike D

          I realise that. Just can’t understand why, even the stoutest of Ashley lickers would not want the team to improve if he did decide to let the club have it’s money back.

          • Wor Lass

            To be fair to the Mad Monk, the January market may not be the best to do lots of shopping in. Left back and goal scorer (centre forward or no 10) are the two things we need above all else. Rafa doesn`t need to buy lots of players to gauge whether or not the Fat Barsteward is backing him so two might do it. He`s just as concerned about who makes the decisions as how much is available. He`ll also want assurances about the academy and the training facilities. I think Jabba really does want Rafa to stay so you never know, the log jam could be freed a bit.

          • Mike D

            We won’t hold our breath though.

          • Wor Lass

            Absolutely not!

          • Pezza

            Can you name a no.10 that Rafa has bought whilst he’s been manager.

            I can see an attacking midfielder but he’s never going to buy a no.10 as we know it.

          • Toon Arnie

            Muto ? What would you class him as ?

          • Pezza

            Not a number 10

          • Wezza

            It is widely known that two Manchester brothers who used to troll here, until they got banned, were not actual NUFC fans but Manure fans.
            Monk isn’t a toon fan.

          • Pezza

            Monk is a proper fan, he has something far more interesting to say than Wezza who is a little simple.

            If you read whst Monk has posted it makes sense in that the team is playing well and more than capable of beating those teams around us.

          • Pezza

            What do you mean, have it’s money back?

      • Pezza

        I suspect we will see a attacking midfielder / competition for Perez..you have to understand Rafa’s mentality, in all his years of managing, he’s not bought in a no.10, he inherited one at Napoli but otherwise he has a linking midfielder with an engine on him.

        Otherwise, as monk/moscow says, who are we going to buy? A left back? Drop Dummett? Dummett has been excellent and sorely missed at the start of last season. A defensive midfielder? Well the much maligned Diame was excellent on Monday & been rather good since Ki joined the midfield.

      • Themoscow72

        Would he be better though there is no guarantee that is the problem. You can spend £100m easily and go backwards.

        • Mike D

          Or tread water and get flushed down the toilet with the rest of turds.

    • Toon Arnie

      Yep £40m spent on those two positions and we could really push on. If it’s not all paper talk this lad from the MLS might give us some pace and trickery up front.
      Have a word with your boss Moscow and get this moving, I can’t believe this but I actually agree with something you’ve said !!

  • Wor Lass

    Welcome problems for Rafa. Schar and Fernandez were excellent in most respects against Burnley but we did look quite vulnerable in the air. Sam Vokes had a bit of a field day and Rafa might bear that in mind. But it`ll be tough on anyone left out of that line-up. A lot of people have touted Jonjo as a no 10 instead of Perez. I wouldn`t mind seeing him in that role at some point but Rafa`s first instinct is defence and ours starts with Perez. The 11 that started v Burnley deserve another go but, then again, Rafa will be looking at Wet Spam and he`ll design a line-up to deal with them and sentiment won`t come into it!

    • StMichael

      yea id have shelvey muto in for perez any day or even Richie. perez would be first on my bench as he always adds energy later in games. Pleased Sterry is back. He could be usefull.

      • Toon Arnie

        I was nodding to myself all the way through that post until you get to Sterry !!