Rafa will give his press conference at 1:00 pm today and the first question from the local journalists is likely to be what the status of striker Dwight Gayle is and whether he is in the squad for tomorrow’s vitally important game at Huddersfield.
Rafa has been unwilling to put Dwight in the squad until he is quite sure mentally that everything is in fact OK with the hamstring he pulled in the game at Brentford on 14th January.
Rafa Benitez talks to Dwight Gayle as he leaves pitch against Aston Villa
With this being Dwight’s third hamstring problem in the last 16 months, it’s hardly surprising he’s a bit wary of returning too soon.
The good news is that before he played at Aston Villa for about 30 minutes before having to come off, the scan on the hamstring was clear and after the game the scan was also clear.
So there doesn’t seem to be any physical damage there and he didn’t make things any worse by playing against Villa.
Dwight has been doing special training to get fit for the run-in to the season when he could be a key player for Newcastle, given the lad can score at anytime.
Dwight already has 20 Championship goals in just 20 league appearances for us this season.
We have missed his creativity up front and if he is not available tomorrow it leaves an interesting selection poser for Benitez.
The experiment to play Yoan Gouffran up front didn’t really work on Tuesday night, but Daryl Murphy looked good when he came on as the target man up front and Daryl almost scored a couple of times.
It could be that Daryl gets a start tomorrow at the Terriers and we haven’t really used the Irishman’s vast experience of the Championship much this season.
But given the way Huddersfield play Rafa will know whether Daryl will fit with the game plan for tomorrow’s game, which is being shown live on TV around the world.
It should be an interesting press conference this afternoon with Rafa.