Date: 17th January 2017 at 8:44pm
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Manager Rafa Benitez has given a team news update ahead of tonight’s clash against Birmingham City in the FA Cup replay and he’s also spoken about January transfer plans.

Speaking to the Official Site with Isaac Hayden, Dwight Gayle and Vurnon Anita all forced off in the two one victory over Brentford last weekend, Rafa explained that Hayden and Gayle weren’t as bad as first feared but Vurnon could be out for around the six week mark.

With numbers low for the Birmingham game Benitez also confirmed that youngsters Jamie Holmes, Stuart Findlay, Yasin Ben El-Mhanni and Dan Barlaser had all joined first team training this week to provide us with cover.

‘To have three players away (AFCON), and to lose three in the same game is not good for anyone here, but we have to manage the situation. We didn`t want to draw against Birmingham, but it has happened, and now we have to be sure to do well, go through and start thinking about another game.’

Benitez went on to say.

‘Hayden`s doing well. He could play tomorrow if we wanted to push, but normally we would not push him. Gayle is doing much better than we were expecting. There is no timeframe – we will assess every day and see how he is doing. Obviously, it is still too early and we will have to wait, but he has already started treatment and is doing well. Anita has a problem with his ankle, so it could be around six weeks – more or less.’

Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey does return to contention following his lengthy ban however, and Benitez was pressed about possible arrivals with tenious media links to Yohan Cabaye and even Andros Townsend so far this week.

‘January is always difficult. You do not have too many good players available. When you try, clubs do not want to sell, or prices are so high it is impossible to go there. As I have said a lot of times, it is important to approach the right players for us, and try to sign these players. We are working very hard. I have confidence we will do well, and we will sign what we need. We have some options – a couple of them who can maybe be really good.’


‘My priority is to be sure the team is strong enough to compete from now until the end of the season, and I will try to do this until the last day of the transfer window, and after that I will try to coach the team as well as I can to continue winning. I will try now, until the end of the window, to do what I have to do.’

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