When will Florian Lejeune make his Newcastle United? Rafa Benitez discusses the defender's recovery

Newcastle United defender Florian Lejeune is closing in on a return to first-team duties.
Newcastle United defender Florian Lejeune is closing in on a return to first-team duties.

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has offered a fitness update on injured defender Florian Lejeune.

The Frenchman suffered a knee injury at the end of June that was expected to rule him out for much of the season.

But the centre-half is back out on the training pitches at Benton, just FIVE months after suffering the injury.

Benitez admits Lejeune, who was one of the club’s star men last season, could play this weekend, when Wolves travel to St James’s Park, but he wants to take his time with the player.

“He’s doing full training sessions. Could he play tomorrow? Yes,” said the Magpies’ manager.

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“But is this the time to put him on the pitch? No.

“I want to see him in a couple of weeks training with the team.

“He has the strength and is tackling, but we are talking about an injury that is normally more than six months, and this is five months.”

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Benitez will have to do without fellow defender Fabian Schar on Sunday, with the Switzerland international suspended.

That almost certainly means a defensive reshuffle by Benitez, away from the five-man backline who impressed at Everton.

“We had to do it as we have some players suspended. We had to manage things,” he said of his midweek switch back to three central defenders.

“We have to say it was a satisfactory point.

“It could be different but we have to give credit to the players as the application was excellent.

“We are doing fine but this is the Premier League. Next we have Wolves and we have to concentrate as we did in this game.”