Huddersfield Town have confirmed that both Aaron Mooy and Philip Billing had to return to Yorkshire early from their respective international duties with minor injuries.
The extent of these injuries is yet to be confirmed, and head coach David Wagner will address the matter more in his press conference before the game. However, the club have said that they will be assessed over the coming days to see if they could be in contention for Saturday’s game against Newcastle United.
How did the players fare during the international break?
Over the March international break, the last one before the end of the season, Aaron Mooy travelled with the Australian squad to Norway to face them in the first of two friendlies. The Socceroos lost 4-1, with Mooy playing the full ninety minutes and getting the assist from a corner for the Aussies' only goal.
Head coach Bert van Marwijk then took his squad to Fulham’s Craven Cottage to face Columbia on Tuesday evening, but it was announced just prior to the game that the 27-year-old midfielder had already headed back to his Yorkshire club for assessment.
Billing, who was involved with the Denmark under-21 squad, played 45 minutes in their 5–0 friendly win over Austria under-21. They then faced Georgia under-21s on Tuesday evening in the UEFA Euro under-21 Qualifiers, but the young Dane was not involved, as he too was on his way back to Huddersfield.
Wagner’s Midfield Headache
This leaves David Wagner with a serious midfield headache ahead of the trip to St. James’ Park. It has yet to be confirmed whether either of the players will be fit to play.
With Danny Williams ruled out for the remainder of the season with a fractured fibula, it leaves the Terriers with only two recognised central midfielders – regular and vice-captain Jonathan Hogg, and Dean Whitehead – who has only made three substitute league appearances all season, and so, the 36-year-old is probably not expected to start in such an important fixture.
This either means the German coach will have to change the team’s usual 4-2-3-1 formation, or he will have to employ the services or right- back Florent Hadergjonaj in the central midfield role, as he did at Old Trafford against Manchester United in February.