Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez back at work ahead of Stoke, Jonjo Shelvey returns
Rafa Benitez returned to Newcastle United today after recovering from his recent surgery.
Benitez's missed Sunday's 1-0 win over Swansea City as he recovered from an operation.
But the club's manager is back in the North East ahead of Saturday's home game against Stoke City.
Newcastle are looking to make it three wins out of three.
Meanwhile, Ayoze Perez has revealed how Benitez still managed to get his point across at the Liberty Stadium – even though he was at his family home on Merseyside.
Here's your daily briefing:
Benitez was back at work this morning after returning to Tyneside.
The 57-year-old underwent an operation earlier this month to clean out an infection related to previous hernia surgery.
Benitez wasn't well enough to travel to Swansea at the weekend.
However, he was back at the club's Benton training ground ahead of the Stoke fixture.
Newcastle tweeted a photograph of Benitez with the captain: "The boss is back."
Benitez wasn't at the Liberty Stadium, but United's players still heard from Benitez.
Perez takes up the story: "Even though we didn't have our manager with us, we tried to make it as normal as we could.
"He wasn’t able to be here, but even if he had been here, it would still have been tough. We knew what we had to do, and we did it well.
“We had a little conversation before the match, where he was saying some key things. Then after that, the rest of the staff did great work. They made sure that we controlled everything.
“We know the mentality we have to have, and that is important.
“We did our game plan well. It was clear what we had to do. We knew we were going to have our chances, and finally we were able to score."
Captain Jamaal Lascelles claimed all three points for Newcastle with a second-half header.
Lascelles had stopped a goal-bound shot minutes earlier.
Shelvey, back from a three-game suspension, was an unused substitute against Swansea, his former club.
Benitez and his staff preferred Mikel Merino for the game.
However, Shelvey was back on the pitch last night for an Under-23 fixture at St James's Park.
“It was great for them to have 90 minutes with Jonjo,” said coach Beardsley. “We were intending to take him off, but unfortunately Curtis (Good) got a groin strain.
“In terms of the way he was around the group, he was top class. That was a big bonus for them.”
Shelvey, sent off in the season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur, is now pushing to be involved against Stoke.
Nile Ranger will miss Southend’s game against Shrewsbury Town tonight – because he is under curfew.
The 26-year-old was released from prison last month after serving 10 weeks of an eight-month sentence for online banking fraud.
Ranger, however is wearing an electronic tag.
And Southend manager Phil Brown said: “Unfortunately, the tag is causing me a problem.
“His curfew is 7pm until 7am, and it doesn’t look like we’ve got the opportunity of playing Nile.”