Newcastle United briefing: A fresh injury blow and a brilliant Ciaran Clark tweet

Another day, another injury.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 20th March 2017, 10:10 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:58 am
Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has another defensive worry in the wake of Newcastle United's goalless draw against Birmingham City.

The result took the club a point clear of second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.

And those players not on international duty now have a fortnight to rest and recover from April.

Here is your daily briefing:

Another man down?

Grant Hanley has had to withdraw from the Scotland squad for Wednesday night's friendly against Canada and Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

Grant Hanley, right

The defender was recalled to the starting XI against Birmingham with Ciaran Clark sidelined with knee ligament damage, but Hanley – who won praise from Benitez for his performance against Lukas Jutkiewicz – left St Andrew's with an injury.

United are yet to confirm the nature of Hanley's problem.

And the injury will be a concern to injury-hit Benitez, who is also without defensive duo DeAndre Yedlin and Jamie Sterry.

Meanwhile, Clark's withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland squad has been confirmed, while goalkeeper Rob Elliot hasn't made Martin O'Neill's final selection.

Grant Hanley, right

The goal that wasn't

One player still in Gordon Strachan's squad is Matt Ritchie.

The winger helped a shot from Ayoze Perez over the line in front of United's 3,229-strong travelling support, and TV replays indicated that his 40th-minute strike should have stood.

“I definitely think the goal should have stood – it looks an incorrect decision to me," said Ritchie.

"I might have been level with Ayoze, but if anything I think I was behind him because I gambled on it coming back out."

Ritchie, however, felt it could prove to be a "good point".

“It was disappointing, but in the end, you look at it and it could be a good point," said the 27-year-old.

“We all know this league is unforgiving, and we’ve come away from a tough place with a draw. Birmingham are probably starting to play how they’ve wanted to play for a while, so it could be a good point at the end of the season.”

Benitez, meanwhile, spoke of a big "opportunity" for Newcastle after the match.And finally

The EFL today published their team of the season on Twitter.

Two Newcastle players – Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey – were named in the XI.

But there was one notable absence – Clark.

The defender, signed from Aston Villa last summer, has been outstanding for United, but he didn't make the EFL's selection.

And Newcastle brilliantly replied to the EFL's tweet with a photograph of a surprised Clark.

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