By 90Min
March 19, 2018

With seven first team players leaving Newcastle United to compete for their countries over the next fortnight, Magpies manager Rafa Benitez has reason to be worried.

Islam Slimani, DeAndre Yedlin, Martin Dubravka, Matt Ritchie, Ciaran Clark, Chancel Mbemba and Mikel Merino are away on international duty. With the club currently just four points outside the relegation zone (13th in the table), Benitez won't want to contend with any injury concerns from the international break as the team prepares for a difficult run-in to the end of the season.

Mark Runnacles/GettyImages

Speaking to The Shields Gazette, Benitez said: "It's the worst thing for us, because you have to keep an eye all the time, checking everyone, and then after every game if they are fine or played or didn't play.

"When they've finished it's still if they will come back in time or will come back tired. Again I will say we have some experience on that. We cannot change anything. We are aware of everything, and that's it."

Newcastle recently played a friendly against Royal Antwerp in Spain to fill a 21-day break in the club's Premier League schedule. The match, played over three halves of 45 minutes each, finished 1-1.

Slimani, who signed on loan from Leicester City during the January transfer window, is yet to play for Newcastle due to injury and missed out on the friendly. Yet the Algerian forward is expected to play for his country in upcoming friendlies against Tanzania and Iran.

Newcastle's next match is a crucial one against fellow struggles Huddersfield Town on March 31st at St. James' Park, followed by games against Leicester and Arsenal.

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