Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has revealed that Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles are both doubts to face Crystal Palace in the Premier League this weekend, as they are both struggling with injuries.
Shelvey has been struggling with a thigh injury since Newcastle's pre-season, and has been absent for Newcastle's last three matches, although he was an unused substitute against Arsenal. Captain Lascelles was forced off the field against Arsenal after suffering an ankle injury.
Speaking to the Newcastle Chronicle after the match with Arsenal, Benitez admitted Shelvey was not ready for selection, but he was glad to see Isaac Hayden and Matt Richie return to the squad. He said: “It’s important to have Hayden coming back - he’s an extra player - and Jonjo still was not fully fit.
“With Matt Ritchie fit again, we have more bodies, more competition - and it has to be good for us.”
In the case of Lascelles, Benitez stated that he was uncertain as to the extent of the defender's injury. He said: “He twisted his ankle, so now we have to assess and decide. To play against Crystal Palace, Leicester, Manchester United in the next games is not easy.
“We have more or less the same team [as last season], and we have to believe if we stick together, if we work hard, we get get more chances and we can get points.”
The report claims that Benitez will give both players the chance to prove their fitness during the next few training sessions, as he looks to give his side a much-needed boost ahead of the important clash with Crystal Palace.
After a string of lacklustre performances against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, Newcastle United find themselves second from bottom in the Premier League table, with their only point coming in a goalless draw with Cardiff City.
Their difficult run of fixtures at the start of this new season also saw them face Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day, which means that, on paper, they have already played some of the hardest fixtures in the league. Fans will be hoping that this corresponds to an improvement in results.