Benitez set to shuffle pack for Bournemouth clash
Schar, Ki and Perez could all get another chance after starring against Watford.
Last weekend’s first win of the season, a 1-0 success against Watford at St James’ Park, came at a cost with skipper Jamaal Lascelles, midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and striker Yoshinori Muto all limping off inside six minutes either side of half-time.
None of the trio are likely to be fit for the Cherries’ visit to Tyneside with Lascelles back in light training after a shoulder problem and Shelvey and Muto yet to return as a result of calf strains. That could mean another chance for Fabian Schar, Ki Sung-yueng and Ayoze Perez, who replaced them to such good effect against the Hornets.
Benitez said: “I gave credit to them after the game. I was telling them they have to keep pushing, and then I’ll be in a position where I have to decide who can play.
“The players have to keep pushing. They did really well and the contribution of the three players was crucial to us, not just how they played, but also their approach and intensity.”
The Magpies will have to improve significantly on their display against Watford if they are to emerge victorious for the second successive weekend after they rode their luck before Perez snatched the points with a second-half header.
They have lost to Eddie Howe’s men on each of their last two trips north and Benitez is well aware of the threat they, and in particular in-form striker Callum Wilson, pose.
He said: “They are doing really well. Teams that have been in the Premier League for a couple of years are in a strong position.
“They are in a good position in the table and playing with confidence, that gives their striker a situation where they can score a lot of goals.
“It is important for us to remember that we had chances against Manchester United and Brighton, but didn’t take them. We had fewer chances against Watford, but scored.
“We have been quite consistent in terms of the balance between attacking and defending, we just have to improve in the final third.
“After an important win, everyone is a bit happier. Hopefully, we can carry on with the same feeling after the next game.”