Newcastle United have been handed some positive news in that midfielder Isaac Hayden looks set to return to full fitness after the international break.
The injuries have been mounting up for the Magpies with Daryl Murphy, Ciaran Clark, Grant Hanley and Rob Elliot picking up knocks in recent weeks. However, Hayden is back in training and is set to return to the squad for the game against Wigan Athletic next week.
The England Under-21 international hasn’t featured since United’s victory over Derby County on 4 February after having surgery on a reoccurring ankle injury.
Jack Colback has been selected to fill the void left by Hayden in eight successive matches alongside Jonjo Shelvey before the goalless draw at Birmingham City where Shelvey missed out through illness.
Mohamed Diame replaced the 26-year-old at St Andrews in a deeper role to what fans have seen him in this campaign.
Deeper role for Diame?
Speaking to The Chronicle about whether Diame could be used in a holding-midfield role again this season, Rafa Benitez said: “He could play in that position but it also depends on the players around him.
Hopefully Hayden will be back I a few days and then we should also have Jonjo back to full strength.”
Benitez also addressed the competition in the squad saying: “It’s good to have opinions, especially if you have to change something during a game.”
The manager also described Diame’s performance in a deeper role as “fine”.
“We knew it could be a difficult game because they have three players in the middle and we had to manage that.
I thought Mo gave us some fresh legs and won plenty of second challenges” said the Spaniard.
Benitez was left disappointed with Newcastle’s play in the wide areas and felt it was the main reason the visitors failed score.
“I wouldn’t say that we were happy, but maybe one more point with one less game is positive.”
Injury news aplenty
While the positive news of Hayden’s imminent return will be welcomed by Benitez, the news that Daryl Murphy could miss the Wigan game due to a calf injury will be a blow to the Magpies.
Irish duo Murphy and Elliot both pulled of the international squad along with Hanley who returned to Newcastle early with a knee injury after being called up by Scotland.