Newcastle United briefing: Injury worry for Rafa Benitez, emotional Jose Enrique retires with a 'heavy heart'

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has been given an injury scare ahead of Newcastle United's visit to the Liberty Stadium.

Benitez is waiting for all his international players to return ahead of Sunday's game against Swansea City.

Nine players were away with their countries.

And United's manager is sweating on the fitness of DR Congo defender Chancel Mbemba.

We also have news of a retirement and an interview with midfielder Liam Smith, who is keen to put last season's injury "nightmare" behind him.

Here's your daily briefing:

Chancel Mbemba and Rafa Benitez

Chancel Mbemba and Rafa Benitez


Mbemba, a fringe player last season, has started Newcastle's last two Premier League games.

The 23-year-old, however, is doubtful for the Swansea game, who was forced off against Tunisia last night with 59 minutes played.

Benitez, without the injured Paul Dummett, has used Mbemba left-back.

Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic

The potential loss of Mbemba could be offset by the return of Florian Lejeune and DeAndre Yedlin.

World Cup-bound?

Ciaran Clark kept United team-mate Aleksandar Mitrovic off the scoresheet in Dublin last night.

But it was Mitrovic who was smiling after the World Cup qualifier between Serbia and the Republic of Ireland.

Jose Enrique

Jose Enrique

Serbia won 1-0 to all but book their place in next summer's World Cup finals in Russia.

A heavy heart

Former Newcastle defender Jose Enrique today announced his retirement from professional football.

Dogged by a knee problem, the 31-year-old has had to hang up his boots.

Enrique – who left United for Liverpool in 2011 afte an infamous Twitter meltdown – posted an emotional message on social media site Instagram.

"It comes with a very heavy heart today to announce my retirement from professional football," said Enrique.

"It's been a very hard decision to take and accept. I would of loved to have played more years at my best level if my body would of let me but all good things have to come to an end and more in football.

"I just want to say a huge thanks to all of the fans and clubs who have supported me throughout my career. You have been the best!

"I have been blessed to play for some of the best teams in the world, with some of the best players in the world. these memories will stay with me forever."


South Shields-born midfielder Liam Smith is hoping that his own injury problems are behind him.

The midfielder scored in last week's 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy win over his former loan club Crewe Alexandra.

“I could only describe it as the worst season I’ve had, and I’ve played football for a long time and had a lot of injuries,” said the 21-year-old.

“I got a loan move to a good club like Crewe. I was just settling in – I had been there two or three weeks – but I got an injury and went back to Newcastle."

Smith takes up the story here.