Rafa Benitez told Newcastle fans on Friday that Paul Dummett is the only player definitely unavailable for Monday night, as well as long-term injured Florian Lejeune and Jamie Sterry.
The manager saying that none of Muto, Shelvey or Lascelles have so far completed a full training session but he would see how they did over the weekend.
The implication appearing to be that if any of that trio do end up being available, it would be on the bench at best.
So who will play at left-back?
I have found the reaction of the media and Newcastle supporters to the question very interesting.
The talk being of Rafa Benitez having plenty of ‘options’ to play there instead of Paul Dummett.
When they talk about options, the reality is surely it is just numbers.
The way it is presented is that it is as though Rafa is spoilt for choice.
There looks to be four possibilities:
Kenedy – Gradually finding his form once again but that is a winger. I know he was originally labelled as a left-back but I think we have seen enough by now, to know that he isn’t a defender, as well as needing him further up the pitch anyway.
Ciaran Clark – Has been an excellent signing, possibly Newcastle’s best defender in the promotion season and always gives his best. However, he doesn’t really look a Premier League level centre-back these days and certainly not a PL level left-back.
Javier Manquillo – A Championship player at best and that is when he is playing on his favoured right side.
Achraf Lazaar – Rafa Benitez didn’t think he was good enough for the second tier, never mind the Premier League. Hasn’t started a single league match for Newcastle and has never even got on the pitch in the Premier League, that won’t change on Monday.
We are all feeling a lot better after these couple of victories but that doesn’t mean we can extend the positivity to the shocking fact that we have no credible alternative to play at left-back.
Plus, it isn’t as though Paul Dummett is some great player. He is a very good squad player and a steady defender when playing but also very limited, giving absolutely nothing going forward does create a significant weakness in the team.
Having said that though, we know what we get with him and on a cold, wet and windy Monday night in Burnley, I just hope we don’t miss him quite as much as I fear.