Rafa Benitez loses key Newcastle player to illness

Ayoze Perez
Ayoze Perez
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Ayoze Perez has been ruled out of Newcastle United's home game against Birmingham City.

The forward is unavailable for the Championship fixture after missing training today through illness.

United manager Benitez said: "Ayoze has a fever and was not able to train."

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Midfielder Jack Colback (eye) and defender Grant Hanley (shin) remain sidelined for the league leaders.

Otherwise, Benitez reported no fresh injury concerns from last Friday night's 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground at his pre-match media call.

Newcastle lead second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion by one point.

And Chris Hughton's side can go top with a win over Leeds United at the Amex Stadium tonight.

Benitez said: “The championship is so difficult.

"Every week can change. In England you talk about the Christmas time being crucial, but every month is in the Championship."