Rafa Benitez has met the media on Friday afternoon.
The Newcastle boss speaking ahead of the FA Cup third round clash with Blackburn Rovers.
Newcastle are yet to reach the fifth round during Mike Ashley’s reign and with a tough relegation struggle ahead, very difficult for the NUFC boss to have any kind of serious go at this competition.
The Newcastle manager making clear there will be changes to his team for the FA Cup match and that five players are already ruled out: Mohamed Diame, Federico Fernandez and Karl Darlow all through injury, as well as Muto and Ki, who are both away at the Asian Cup.
The likes of Sean Longstaff, Jamie Sterry and Freddie Woodman are all likely to be involved.
Jonjo Shelvey might also be given a game with little playing time recently, whilst Florian Lejeune will surely play, either from the start or off the bench at some point – the defender only playing 45 minutes of reserve football so far as he recovers from injury.
Rafa Benitez though saying Ciaran Clark is now available after being ruled out recently.
Meanwhile he repeated that Rob Elliot is available to any takers in January, along with Rolando Aarons and Achraf Lazaar.
Rafa Benitez speaking at pre-Blackburn press conference:
“Blackburn are doing well.
“They’re improving and watching games, they’re scoring goals, they move the ball well between the lines.
“If they’re playing against a Premier League team, they will give everything and it will be difficult.
“It’s an opportunity for us to do well.
“We will play at home; we have to change things at home so it’s an opportunity to do that.
“Can we do it? I hope so.
“We will change players (for Blackburn) because we have too many games in a row.
“I saw that (speculation about Newcastle signing Mario Balotelli) but I will not talk about the transfer window.
“That (not talking about transfers) might be my position for the whole of January.
“Then I might talk on 1 February but we will have to see…
“What the (Newcastle) fans are trying to say (in the open letter to Mike Ashley asking for/demanding squad investment in January) is that they want to compete and stay in the Premier League.
“The fans have been fantastic for us all season and I can understand what they think, they have ambition to get better. I will not talk about the transfer window.”