Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has confirmed captain Jamaal Lascelles will be available for Saturday’s clash with Manchester City.
The Magpies face the daunting prospect of taking on last season’s Premier League champions in their own backyard, but they will be boosted by the return of Lascelles, who has missed the recent defeats to Chelsea and Nottingham Forest with an ankle injury.
Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are not yet fit enough to return due to respective thigh and knee problems, while the match will also come too soon for Javi Manquillo.
Benitez is delighted to have his skipper available and believes Lascelles’ return will boost the whole squad.
“In terms of injuries, Shelvey and Ritchie are still not available. Manquillo has been training but is not in the squad. Lascelles was training and is available,” the Spaniard said.
“Obviously, for us, he is an important player. When you miss some players in important games, you know that they will be even more difficult. But when you have players coming back, it is a boost for the confidence and, hopefully, he can be the difference.”
Benitez has also been quick to play down reports of a recent bust-up between Lascelles and Ritchie.
“You want competitive professionals,” Benitez added. “It’s very positive.
“In all my life as a player and a coach, every year you have two or three situations in the dressing room during a game or during a training session when something happens between players.”
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