A difficult time ahead of us all on Saturday teatime and this is the predicted Newcastle team v Chelsea below.
On Friday afternoon, Rafa informed us that Paul Dummett and Jonjo Shelvey aren’t available.
Earlier this week it was revealed that the pair had travelled to Barcelona to see a specialist, Dummett with an ongoing hamstring problem and Shelvey with his thigh.
Altogether, the NUFC boss will be missing at least six of his first team squad, as both Ki and Muto are at the Asian Cup, Darlow is out injured still, whilst Kenedy can’t play against the club that has loaned him out.
On top of this, Mohamed Diame is also reported to be doubtful.
So what does that leave us with?
The short answer, is a very unbalanced squad, which we all knew anyway.
Rafa Benitez has five good to very good centre-backs in his squad and yet players missing in pretty much every other outfield position.
I think he will play four of the five centre-backs with Florian Lejeune making do with a place on the bench.
I take for granted Rafa will have his now usual three centre-backs, with Lascelles, Fernandez and Schar there, whilst Yedlin and a make do Clark as wing-backs. Or in reality, two of five defenders.
Salomon Rondon was rested/protected against Man Utd and will return, with Ayoze Perez almost certainly as his main back-up.
Which leaves three spaces.
I see a very make do trio in midfield, with Hayden helped by Ritchie playing more inside, plus Atsu expected to try and get forward if he can and help to try and create something.
Not ideal but then when did anybody tell you that supporting Newcastle United would be?
This being my predicted Newcastle team v Chelsea:
A team that will hopefully see Rafa’s side improve their points total after Saturday…