We have central midfielders Ki, Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey coming back from injury and they will be fighting out for a central midfield position alongside Isaac Hayden in the final eight games of the season.
All three are not 100% match fit so maybe Rafa will give them all some playing time, so they are 100% soon and able to contribute to Newcastle winning as many games as possible through the end of the season.
Ki was not fully match fit against Everton, so the 79 minutes he got in that game will do him the world of good.
Ki Sung-yueng – keen to get match fit
This is what Ki has said today as reported in the Chronicle:
“It was a very long time because I was injured in January. For me, it was two months without playing.”
“I played 45 minutes against Moscow, but this was not a proper league game. Of course, I was not 100% match fit against Everton, but I tried to give everything on the pitch.”
“Hopefully, my form will get better, and better, and better as I play more games. I was just very pleased that we won.”
“I was very frustrated during my time out, especially when I got injured in the Asian Cup in the first game, which I never expected.
“It was very disappointing, but this is life.”
“In football, you can have injuries, and sometimes you have to wait for your chance to play – this is football life.”
“I just waited, recovered well and tried to be in the team and I worked as hard as I could on the training ground.”
“I’m very pleased that we won; hopefully, myself and the team will be better and better now.”
“We still have to go over the line. It’s not finished yet but we have a lot to be positive about.”
“We lost at West Ham, but everyone still believed we could be better than this position in the Premier League.”
“There are eight games to go, and we give everything each game, and then see how it goes.”
“We just need to keep doing the same things in the next game against Bournemouth.”
Ki will probably keep his starting place at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow afternoon – but we should see Shelvey at some point in the second half.
We’ll hear from Rafa Benitez at his press conference later today, and we may get some hints about which players he may start in tomorrow’s game at Bournemouth.
Over 50% of fans think we can win this game.