Rafa Benitez hit by triple blow at Newcastle

Dwight Gayle
Dwight Gayle

Rafa Benitez has suffered a triple blow ahead of Brighton and Hove Albion’s visit to St James’s Park.

 Newcastle United’s manager has lost strikers Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic to concussion.

Gayle is the Championship’s top scorer with four goals.

And Rolando Aarons is facing eight weeks on the sidelines after fracturing a metatarsal in Tuesday night’s 2-0 EFL Cup win over Cheltenham Town.

Gayle and Mitrovic both took blows to the head in the second-round tie, and they will not be allowed to play in tomorrow evening’s Championship home game against second-placed Brighton because of the Football Association’s concussion guidelines.

Paul Catterson, United’s Head of Sports Medicine and Science, said: “We have to adhere to the guidelines set out by the FA in line with other competitive sports, which rightly puts the safety and health of players first.”

Gayle is the Championship’s top scorer with four goals.

Mitrovic was making his first appearance after serving a four-game suspension.

Newcastle manager Benitez is likely to turn to forward Ayoze Perez, who scored both goals against Cheltenham.

Winger Aarons – who overcame a series of injuries to earn a new deal at the club this summer – will undergo surgery on his foot.

Meanwhile, Tim Krul has joined Ajax on loan until the end of season after signing a contract extension at Newcastle.

The long-serving goalkeeper’s contract at St James’s Park had been due to expire next summer.

But the 28-year-old has now committed himself to the club until the summer of 2018.

Krul, close to a comeback from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, replaces Jasper Cillessen, who has joined Barcelona.

The Holland international – who joined Newcastle 11 years ago aged 17 – has made 185 appearances for the club.

Krul has been the club’s No 1 for the past five years.

Meanwhile, United forward Adam Armstrong has signed a new five-year deal at Newcastle.

Armstrong scored 20 goals on loan for Coventry City last season.

And the 19-year-old could yet be loaned out by Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez.

“I’m over the moon,” said Armstrong.

“I’ve been working hard on the training pitch, and I did well last season, so to get the reward is massive for me, and I think it’s the next step.

“I went on loan last season and for me to come back here and extend my contract is brilliant for me and for my family.

“I’ll keep working hard every day and progress.”

Newcastle are tracking Chelsea winger Christian Atsu. The 24-year-old has had loan spells at Malaga, Bournemouth, Everton and Vitesse Arnhem in recent seasons.