Rafa Benitez reeling from fresh Newcastle injury blow

Rafa Benitez is sweating on the fitness of Federico Fernandez for the visit of Manchester United to St James's Park.

Federico Fernandez.
Federico Fernandez.

Fernandez was forced off against Watford with a hip injury.

The defender was replaced at the break by Fabian Schar at Vicarage Road, where the game ended 1-1.

Fernandez will now be assessed ahead of Wednesday night’s home game against Man United.

“He has a knock in his hip, so we have to assess him on Monday, and then see what happens,” said United manager Benitez. “We have enough bodies, but always it’s not good news to lose any player.”

Benitez will also check on Ciaran Clark, another of his defenders. Clark missed the Watford game, and the Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool, with an ankle problem.

Asked if Clark would be fit, Benitez said: “We will see.

“I was talking to him on Friday, and he said he was feeling better, but still he was feeling a little bit his ankle.”

Meanwhile, Benitez has pencilled in Florian Lejeune for a comeback in the FA Cup.

The defender ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the summer.

Newcastle take on Blackburn Rovers in a third-round FA Cup tie at St James’s Park on January 5 – and Benitez is ready to field Lejeune against the Championship club.

“He was playing with the Under-23s, and he did well,” said Benitez. “He’s training everyday, but the problem we have is that we have too many centre-backs, and we don’t need to risk him.

“Maybe, it’s a chance for him in the FA Cup, because he’s training normally.”