Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez faces the media ahead of Stoke, blow for Mark Hughes

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez will return to the spotlight today ahead of Newcastle United's home game against Stoke City.

The club's manager will hold his first press conference since late last month.

Benitez missed last weekend's 1-0 win over Swansea City as he recovered from a recent operation.

READ MORE: Isaac Hayden reveals what has brought Newcastle's players closer than ever

However, the 57-year-old was able to phone his players individually a couple of hours before the game at the Liberty Stadium, which was decided by a goal from captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Benitez hasn't spoken to the media since the club's failure to strengthen in the final days of the transfer window.

Jamaal Lascelles

Jamaal Lascelles

We also have an interview with midfielder Isaac Hayden, who spent time at the Newcastle West End Foodbank yesterday.

Here's your daily briefing:

Big numbers

Stoke manager Mark Hughes spoke to journalists this morning ahead of their trip to Tyneside.

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes

Hughes is likely to be without key defender Ryan Shawcross, who missed last weekend's 2-2 draw against Manchester United with a back problem.

“We will check him again, and he may come in with a really positive attitude towards the game," said Hughes. "But as things stand, it’s unlikely.”

Hughes is wary of Newcastle, who are looking to record a third successive win.

“Newcastle are not going to be easy," he said. "They've just got two good results, and they'll be encouraged by that.

Joselu

Joselu

“They had a couple of results and performances that they were probably disappointed with, but obviously wins change everybody’s view and perception.

“So they are looking for three wins on the belt, and that's what they will use for motivation, so we will have to be ready for that.

“They (Newcastle fans) come in big numbers, and you know they get behind their team if their team show desire and good football, which they always appreciate up there."

Price tag

Newcastle signed striker Joselu from Stoke last month for a cut-price £5million fee.

And the striker – who scored on his last appearance at St James's Park – had has his say on his price tag.

Isaac Hayden at the Newcastle West End Foodbank (Pic: Serena Taylor/NUFC)

Isaac Hayden at the Newcastle West End Foodbank (Pic: Serena Taylor/NUFC)

Humbling

Isaac Hayden handed out much-needed food supplies at the Newcastle West End Foodbank yesterday.

The foodbank supports hundreds of families in the city.

And its work is made possible by generous matchday donations from United supporters.

Hayden spoke about the foodbank's work and the importance of the club and its players in the community.

"It is eye-opening,” said the 22-year-old. “You see the different spectrums that people live under. Obviously, only a mile down the road is St James’s Park, and four miles up there is Ponteland, and it’s a completely different story.

“To be involved in this and to see this is eye-opening, and it certainly humbles you.

"The amount that’s been given is amazing. Long may it continue. If we can improve it even more, then brilliant. Things like this are important, and the club and the players can really help out.”

Hayden also revealed how Benitez spoke to every Newcastle player individually before the Swansea game – despite being at his family home on Merseyside.

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