Fears on availability for this whole Newcastle United team against Cardiff
When the Newcastle United team to play Blackburn was named on Tuesday night, you had to laugh.
The number of pundits, neutrals and ‘experts’ criticising the side Rafa Benitez had put on the pitch.
The verdict being that this was a normal case of a Premier League club deliberately putting out a weakened team, further disrespecting the FA Cup etc etc.
There is nothing normal about Newcastle United these days.
A very small Newcastle squad, then hit by injuries, as well as players away on international duty.
In the past, Newcastle fans would have been right at the front of the queue to criticise the look of that Newcastle United team – but the supporters know that Rafa Benitez has been dealt a pretty poor hand of cards by Mike Ashley.
The result and goals were very welcome on Tuesday night but the 4-2 extra time win was marred by the number of injuries and knocks Newcastle players picked up.
This is a whole team of NUFC players that there are concerns about regarding their availability for the Cardiff match:
Karl Darlow – has been out injured for a while now, with Freddie Woodman having been the regular Premier League keeper on the bench – as well as playing on Tuesday night.
Fabian Schar – Was limping as he left the pitch on Tuesday night after needing treatment.
Ciaran Clark – Forced off at half-time with inflammation of the knee according to Rafa Benitez.
Jamaal Lascelles – Lasted 12 minutes but for 11 of those he was hobbling around, having been left holding his hamstring only seconds after replacing Clark as he shepherded the ball out of play. A really strange situation as fans were left wondering whether it was the player or manager’s fault that he stayed on so long when clearly he needed to come off.
Paul Dummett – Another with Hamstring trouble, was in Barcelona seeing a specialist about his ongoing problem. Has missed recent games and badly missed due to no credible alternative.
Jonjo Shelvey – He went to see the same specialist as Dummett last week about his thigh injury, having already been to see him in December. It is now 11 weeks since he started any match.
Ki Sung-yeung – Away with South Korea at Asian Cup and actually picked up a hamstring injury in his first group game. Claimed it was only a minor injury but has sat out the other two group matches.
Mohamed Diame – Injured his hip and forced off against Man Utd, has missed these last two matches.
Isaac Hayden – Another who picked up a knock/injury against Blackburn. Rafa tried to protect him but Hayden had to come on for Lascelles after the captain couldn’t carry on after replacing Clark. That almost ended up with another link in the substitute chain, as at one point he looked to be coming off as well. Eventually saw out the game but limped off the pitch.
Kenedy – After the FA Cup replay, Rafa revealed that the Brazilian hadn’t even been able to put a boot on one of his feet due to a toenail problem. Remains to be seen how much training he will be able to manage, if any, ahead of Saturday and Benitez picking his team.
Yoshinori Muto – Like Ki, away on Asian Cup duty this month.
In addition, as well as the full Newcastle United team who could be unavailable above, Federico Fernandez was another who left the pitch on Tuesday limping. Having been Newcastle’s best defender this season, it wasn’t ideal he had to complete the full 120 minutes against Blackburn, especially with him getting a knock.
Here’s hoping Rafa Benitez will be getting plenty of positive news on the injury/availability front ahead of Saturday afternoon.
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