Centre-back is easily the strongest position for Rafa Benitez but suddenly the festive period could be seriously narrowing is choices.
The NUFC boss assessing Federico Fernandez today (Monday) after he forced off at Watford after injuring his hip.
Whilst Ciaran Clark is still not 100% after recently being out with an ankle issue.
Rafa Benitez had previously said that the plan is for Florian Lejeune to likely make a first start in the less intense/important FA Cup match against Blackburn, having had only 45 minutes of reserve team football this season.
The last thing Rafa ever does is risk players who are not 100% but with Schar and Lascelles seemingly the only two of the five centre-backs that definitely look ok for Man Utd on Wednesday, we could yet see Lejeune on the bench for this next Premier League game.
The one player who Rafa Benitez most definitely can’t afford to have injured is Salomon Rondon and the manager says the key thing is to improve the supply line to the number nine.
By now I think we all know the strengths and weaknesses of the current options, as always it is a massive essential to bring in a better number 10 to get the best out of Rondon and the rest of the team.
Pleased with his team against Watford, apart from the defending for the equaliser, Rafa once again repeated that only by pulling together as a team do Newcastle stand the best/only chance of getting through this season unscathed.
As for the January transfer window, Rafa Benitez is now following a new constant line, refusing to even comment on it, the same with the chances of a takeover.
Let’s hope the club’s silence on both fronts is broken very soon.
Rafa Benitez reflecting on the Watford match and injury situation:
“Federico Fernandez has a knock in his hip, so we have to assess him on Monday, then see what happens.
“We have enough bodies but always it is not good news to lose any player.
“We will [also] see [about Ciaran Clark], was talking to him on Friday and he said he was feeling better but still feeling a little bit his ankle.”
On Salomon Rondon:
“He is doing well and so we have to think he will be OK [fit for Man Utd]
“For us every player is important, because you have to make substitutions in different games, you need fresh legs and you need the quality of everyone.
“I think if we make passes and crosses we will score some goals, so hopefully we can do the same for him [Rondon] and for the other strikers.”
January transfer window?:
“I am happy with the performance [against Watford].
“I don’t talk about the transfer window.
“Hopefully we can do well against Manchester United.”
The performance v Watford:
“I can be happy because before the game against a good team we knew it [a draw] would be a good result but I’m disappointed with the way we were defending [for the equaliser] and we were very close [to three points].
“We had more or less control of the game.
“There weren’t many situations when you could say they were quite dangerous, but the way we conceded… we could have stopped the cross and defended better.
“The way the team was performing [against Watford] is the way we can get the miracle done.
“This group of players were playing really well and doing really well, we have to realise that for us the key has to be the team effort, every player giving 100%.
“In the first-half they did well but after their [Watford’s] substitutions they had better players, at least on paper, and that happens in the Premier League.”