Injured Grant Hanley positive about Newcastle's prospects for the Championship run-in
Rafa Benitez has been left sweating on the fitness of two more Newcastle United players '“ before a ball was kicked during the international break.
Grant Hanley has been forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad because of an injury suffered in Saturday’s goalless draw against Birmingham City.
And Daryl Murphy – who also started the Championship fixture at St Andrew’s – is having a calf problem assessed by the Republic of Ireland’s medical staff.
Martin O’Neill is waiting for the results of a scan on 34-year-old Murphy, who has hit form for United this year.
“Daryl Murphy is giving himself a chance,” said Republic manager O’Neill, who has already lost United defender Ciaran Clark because of a knee injury.
“He’s not ruled out yet. We’ll see what happens with the scan.”
Newcastle yesterday revealed that Hanley would miss tomorrow night’s friendly against Canada and Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovenia because of an ankle injury.
Hanley completed 90 minutes against Birmingham and did not leave St Andrew’s wearing a protective boot.
The 25-year-old was “disappointed” that United hadn’t taken all three points.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get the three points,” said Hanley.
“Every point’s important, especially when it’s so tight at the top of the league. But it’s still disappointing not coming away with three.”
Benitez’s side has had a demanding fixture programme over the past month.
And Hanley, signed from Blackburn Rovers last summer, feels the two-week international break will benefit those players not away with their countries.
“When you come back you’ve got a month and a bit (left),” said Hanley. “It’s really the business end of the season.
“It’ll give the lads a chance to recover. You’ve got players coming back from injury as well.
“It’ll be good for the lads to get a wee break and come back fully focused.”
Newcastle manager Benitez could have midfielder Isaac Hayden back for the April 1 game against Wigan Athletic.
Clark and his defensive colleague DeAndre Yedlin (thigh) will be assessed further over the next fortnight.