Newcastle United daily briefing: Good and bad news for Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has had some unwanted news ahead of Newcastle United's visit to St Andrew's.

The club's manager has lost a key defender for a number of weeks.

Newcastle lead the Championship on goal difference ahead of Saturday's game against Birmingham City.

Promotion rivals Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion are away at Bristol City and Leeds United respectively.

Here is your daily briefing:

Bad news on DeAndre Yedlin

DeAndre Yedlin, right

DeAndre Yedlin, right

Newcastle United are likely to be without DeAndre Yedlin until late next month.

The defender has been in the United States over the past week after suffering a thigh injury in the club's win over Brighton and Hove Albion late last month.

Yedlin – who has missed the club's last two games – is facing a five-week spell on the sidelines.

USA coach Bruce Arena said: “DeAndre has been in LA this past week and examined by our team doctors.

“We realise he is not going to be able to go to these next two matches against Honduras and Panama.

“It is likely he will be out for about five weeks. I would expect he will be back on the field for Newcastle right at the end of this season in April.”

Benitez revealed last week that Yedlin's fellow right-back Jamie Sterry had undergone a groin operation, while there the knee injury which forced Ciaran Clark off last weekend is being assessed by the club's staff.

David Wagner's message to his players

David Wagner has spoken to journalists ahead of tomorrow night's televised game away to Bristol City.

Huddersfield's manager was asked if a win would heap more pressure on second-placed Brighton, who face Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday.

"First we have to win this game," said Wagner, whose side were beaten 3-1 by Newcastle earlier this month.

"I think we should not, like we have in the past, think about the other teams in the table and be focused on what is in front of us. This is what we can influence."

Meanwhile, Brighton manager Chris Hughton has suggested that it'll take more than 90 points to guarantee promotion this season.

Benitez will speak to the media tomorrow.

Mohamed Diame puts club before country

Newcastle midfielder Mohamed Diame has explained his decision to retire from international football after winning 36 caps for Senegal.

Diame, signed from Hull City last summer, has struggled for form this season, and he was criticised for his performance in last weekend's 3-1 home defeat to Fulham.

The 29-year-old feels his international retirement will help him at Newcastle.

"It’s not an easy decision, but I hope with all the rest that I will get from now I will be fresh to give my best for Newcastle," said Diame.

"I know Newcastle is a massive club, and people have big expectations. I know that it is important when you are in a club like this, you have to perform at 100% – even 200%.

"It was important for me to take this decision for the rest of my career."

Diame will now be able to have a rest during the forthcoming international break.

Going, going, gone

And finally, struggling Middlesbrough today sacked Aitor Karanka and put Steve Agnew in caretaker charge.

A club statement said: “Both parties have agreed that it is in the best interests of the club to make this change.

“The club would like to thank Aitor for all his hard work over the past three and a half years and for the success we’ve had during that time. We wish him all the best for the future.”