Rafa Benitez offers injury update on key Newcastle United trio
Key Newcastle United trio Jamaal Lascelles, Christian Atsu and Paul Dummett have been ruled out of the Magpies trip to Chelsea.
Although, manager Rafa Benitez has confirmed that all three are edging closer to a first-team return.
Skipper Lascelles has been out since the 1-0 home loss to Bournemouth, missing United's last three due to an ankle problem.
Atsu has also been out since then with a thigh injury, while defender Dummett has not kicked a ball since the opening day of the season, having limped out of the Tottenham defeat back in August with a hamstring injury.
While hopes had been high at least two of the three could be in contention this weekend, the manager has taken the decision to rule all three out.
Ahead of the visit to Stamford Bridge (kick-off 12.30pm), Benitez said: "I had a conversation with Atsu, Lascelles and Dummett and they are very close.
"We didn't take them for this game because the other players were doing well and it makes no sense to take any risks.
"The rest are the same we had."
Having made five changes to his team that broke the four-game losing streak at West Brom, the talk on Tyneside among fans has been about further potential changes this weekend.
Many punters are calling for Aleksandar Mitrovic to get the nod in place of Joselu, who has struggled in front of goal of late.
When asked about the Serbian international's potential involvement, Benitez was coy on the subject.
“We have very good competition in the striker positions and I am pleased with this," said the manager.
Probably the most unexpected change in the West Midlands came in goal, with Rob Elliot dropping out in place of Karl Darlow, making his first Premier League appearance of the season.
Will Benitez stick with Darlow, or will he go back to the man who was perceived as his No 1?
"You will know tomorrow about Rob," said Benitez.
"He has trained well. The competition is crucial if we want to stay and survive in the Premier League. I need to be sure we will survive and they compete for the places.
"We were not winning games and I wanted to change something so everyone was on their toes, to understand what we need to stay in the Premier League.
"I was pleased with the team spirit of everyone playing and not only the 11 but all of the players involved the other day."