Rafa Benitez has bad news on injury front at Newcastle United

Mohamed Diame.
Mohamed Diame.

Mohamed Diame is pushing to return against Manchester City.

Newcastle United take on the Premier League champions at St James’s Park tomorrow night.

We have to be lucky if we have Diame.

Rafa Benitez

Benitez was without a clutch of players for the weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Watford.

Diame, Paul Dummet and Jonjo Shelvey all sat out the game along with South Korea international Ki Sung-yueng, who returned from the Asian Cup with a hamstring injury.

Japan’s Yoshinori Muto is still away at the competition.

Benitez doesn’t expect to have any of the club’s injured players back for the City game, which is followed by Saturday’s fixture against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

“We have to be lucky if we have Diame,” said United’s manager, whose side is 17th in the league and two points above the relegation zone.

Diame has been out since the January 2 home game against Manchester United with a thigh problem.

Benitez, mindful of the City game, made seven changes for the cup tie.

Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Florian Lejeune were all named on the bench.

“This was a strong team, strong enough,” said Benitez.

“I think we could have won. That we didn’t do it means that maybe we need something more if we want to go through and then try to challenge for this competition. “We did what we had to do. We tried and we couldn’t, that’s it.”

Second-half goals from Andre Gray and Isaac Success put Watford into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Benitez, for his part, felt the game could the way of his team.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Benitez.

“We made a couple of mistakes and conceded two goals in a game that was even and could have gone either way.

“You have to create chances to score goals, but in this game you cannot say we were much worse than them.

“We just have to realise that we cannot go through with this team, it means we have to now concentrate on the league.

“We have 15 games now to play, and we have to be sure everyone is focused and no distractions.”