Rafa Benitez has a midfield crisis ahead of Newcastle’s visit to Chelsea

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez has just two fully fit midfielders at Newcastle United – and one of those wants to leave the club.

Benitez’s side take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

Diame has had this problem in the past. Normally, after a few days he is fine.

Rafa Benitez

And United’s manager, already without Ki Sung-yueng and the ineligible Kenedy, is assessing Mohamed Diame (hip) and Jonjo Shelvey (thigh) ahead of the Premier League game.

And that leaves Isaac Hayden and 21-year-old Sean Longstaff as Benitez’s only fit central midfielders.

Longstaff – who started last weekend’s FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers – wasn’t risked in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy tie against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Hayden reiterated his determination to leave the club for family reasons after the home defeat to Manchester United earlier this month.

“It’s been difficult, but hopefully the club have known for six months what the situation is, and there have been a few conversations already,” said Hayden.

“We’ll just see what happens over the next few weeks.”

Shelvey felt his thigh after coming off the bench against Blackburn.

The 26-year-old has been troubled by a thigh problem for the past couple of months, and he travelled to Barcelona this week to see a specialist.

Diame limped out of the Man United game on January 2 after aggravating an recurring hip injury.

“Diame has had this problem in the past,” said Benitez. “Normally, after a few days he is fine.”

Meanwhile, Ki, away with South Korea for the Asian Cup, could be away until early next month.

Ki and his team-mates take on Kyrgyzstan in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.