Midfielder absence dents Newcastle hopes

10 months ago

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has confirmed in-form midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will not be available for Saturday’s clash at Liverpool, after picking up a knee injury.

The England international has been a key figure for the Magpies over recent weeks and his display in the 1-0 home win against Manchester United last month drew huge praise from the pundits.

However, the 26-year-old midfielder picked up a knee injury in the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth last time out and has now been ruled out of the trip to Anfield.

“He has a knock to his knee and he will not be available,” Benitez said at a press conference. “We are waiting on the results of the scans. We don’t know how serious it is. He wants to train and play but we have to check.”

Newcastle are sitting 15th in the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, two points above the bottom three, and there is still huge work to be done for the North East-outfit to secure their place in the top flight.

Shelvey’s absence is likely to mean a return to the starting line-up for Mikel Merino, who’s last start came in the 1-1 draw against Burnley on New Year’s Eve.

January loan signing Islam Slimani is not fit enough to make his debut for the club, meaning Dwight Gayle – who bagged two goals against the Cherries last week – or Joselu will be chosen to lead the line.

Benitez’s men are on a four-game unbeaten run, but they come up against a Liverpool side that haven’t tasted defeat on home soil in the league since April 2017.

The Reds thumped West Ham United 4-1 last time out with Egypt international Mohamed Salah getting on the scoresheet again, taking his goal tally to 23 for the campaign.

Newcastle haven’t lost against Liverpool in the previous three meetings but the Magpies’ last triumph at Anfield was back in 2014 – Spanish forward Ayoze Perez striking late in a 1-0 win.

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