Rafa Benitez loses Newcastle defender to injury ahead of FA Cup tie

Rafa Benitez has lost another defender ahead of Luton Town's visit to St James's Park.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 6th January 2018, 5:00 am
Chancel Mbemba
Chancel Mbemba

Chancel Mbemba is out of Newcastle United’s third-round FA Cup tie against the League Two leaders.

Mbemba – who would probably have started the tie – has suffered a knee problem in training.

“Mbemba got a knock in his knee the other day in training,” said United manager Benitez. “But it’s not serious.”

Mbemba joins Aleksandar Mitrovic (back), Florian Lejeune (foot), Jesus Gamez (ankle) and Rob Elliot (thigh) on the sidelines.

Mitrovic is set to return to England after spending some time in his native Serbia.

“He (Mitrovic) went to Serbia, because his partner was having a baby and he’s injured.

“The last time he said he was running around 80% of his pace, so he has to be very close. He’ll come back now.

“Then we have Elliot, Lejeune, Gamez and Mbemba. They’re not available.

“I would like to see my players available now, because if you are in the transfer window and people are talking and talking. The players have to be available, but they’re not available.”

Benitez pledged to name a “strong” team at his pre-match press conference. However, he plans to rest a number of key players ahead of next Saturday’s Premier League home game against Swansea City. Asked if he would rest any players, Benitez said: “Yes, but not too many.”