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Bad news for Benitez: Newcastle suffer setback ahead of Liverpool clash

Newcastle United supporters have been somewhat frustrated in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their team let slip a two-goal lead to end up drawing 2-2 with Bournemouth in the Premier League last time out.

Rafa Benitez’s men went into their clash with the South Coast outfit off the back of edging Manchester United 1-0 in their preceding league encounter, a result which renewed the optimism among our resident Magpies fans that their side will indeed beat the drop this term. And the North East giants took that momentum into their match at the Vitality Stadium last week as a Dwight Gayle brace gave them a 2-0 lead at half time, only for late strikes from Adam Smith and Dan Gosling to preserve a point for Eddie Howe’s Cherries.

Thus, there have been many frustrated Newcastle fans in the Tavern in the last few days, and they are unlikely to be overly thrilled by recent comments from manager Benitez in his pre-Liverpool press conference (via the club’s official Twitter handle), as he has confirmed that midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will miss Saturday’s clash at Anfield through injury.

The England international completed the full 90 minutes against Bournemouth last weekend and certainly played a part in the outcome of the match, missing a guilt-edged opportunity to seal the points for the Magpies late on, before failing to do his defensive duties to prevent the Cherries from fighting back.

Yet it was confirmed during the week by the club that the midfielder sustained a knee problem at the Vitality Stadium, and Benitez has since admitted that the 26-year-old will indeed be unavailable for selection this weekend.

And while he has widely been criticised for his defensive efforts last week, there’s no doubting that this setback is bad news for Benitez, as the midfielder proved in the first half against the Cherries that he is a hugely influential player in this Newcastle squad.

Landlord’s verdict: Jonjo Shelvey may not have covered himself in glory last week with his defensive efforts against Bournemouth, but his first half display did suggest that he remains a key player for Newcastle in their battle to stave off Premier League relegation.

Yet the 26-year-old will not be available for selection against Liverpool on Saturday after sustaining a knee problem against the Cherries last week, in news which is sure to come as a big setback to manager Rafa Benitez given how impressive he performed in the first half last time out.

Nonetheless, it will now be up to the other central midfield players to step up in his absence against the free-scoring Reds on Saturday.

Newcastle fans… what do you make of the news? Let us know!

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