Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez and Carlos Carvalhal speak ahead of Hillsborough clash

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez will face the media this afternoon ahead of Newcastle United's visit to Hillsborough.

The Championship leaders are looking to record a third successive win – and take another big stride towards a Premier League return.

Benitez will face questions on the farcial refereeing decision which has dominated the headlines since Wednesday night's 1-0 victory over Burton Albion.

Newcastle lead second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion by two points. Third-placed Huddersfield Town – who have a game in hand – are 10 points behind them.

Here's your daily briefing:

Awkward moments

Isaac Hayden

Isaac Hayden

Referee Keith Stroud will have a weekend off after his blunder against Burton.

The official disallowed a first-half penalty from Matt Ritchie and awarded the visitors a free-kick after Dwight Gayle, and a number of other players, encroached into the box before he struck the ball.

Stroud should have ordered the kick to be retaken.

Former referee Graham Poll gave his view of the bizarre incident in his Daily Mail column.

"For some inexplicable reason he got wrong a basic law known to every local park referee," wrote Poll.

"Wednesday night, sitting in the referees’ dressing room at St James’s Park, he will have been overwhelmed by sadness, incredulous that he could have made such an error.

"There would have been some very awkward moments between the four match officials."

Ritchie claimed three points for Newcastle with a second-half penalty.

Poll added: "The only good thing is that it had no effect on the outcome of the match, for which they will all be immensely grateful."

Meanwhile, Dwight Gayle and Christian Atsu have paid tribute to Ritchie, who has been outstanding for United this season.

"It is not just his ability, he is a great character,” said Gayle. “He is non-stop with his talking to us."

Wednesday boost

Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal could have striker Fernando Forestieri back from injury for Newcastle's visit to Hillsborough.

Carvalhal's side are sixth in the Championship ahead of the televised fixture.

“Our challenge tomorrow is to be at our best level," said Carvalhal. "We will need that to achieve the points.

“We respect Newcastle a lot – they have a lot of quality– but we are Sheffield Wednesday, and we’ll be confident in our home.

“If everything is OK today, then Forestieri can be involved tomorrow.

“During today and in the next weeks, we need to push the players. The panorama is completely different now, and we have a good feeling for the rest of the season.”

Midfield update

Benitez has given an injury and illness update on Isaac Hayden and Jack Colback ahead of the Wednesday game.

Hayden returned from an ankle problem last weekend, while Colback had been laid low by a fever before the Burton fixture.

And Benitez said: "Jack Coback was feeling bad during the (Tuesday) night – a lot of fever – and he was not available.

“Isaac Hayden was a little bit tired after the last game (against Wigan), and so we didn’t want to take any risks.”

And finally...

Jamie Sterry has made a bruising return to action after recovering from a recent groin operation.

The tough-tackling defender revealed that he was back in training on Twitter.

And team-mate Rob Elliot was quick to reply to the 21-year-old's tweet.

Elliot said: "Some disgraceful behaviour today against the top goal scorer!!"

For updates from Rafa Benitez this afternoon, follow NUFC writer Miles Starforth on Twitter here