Benítez delivers positive injury update ahead of West Ham
Written by Luke Vinton
Rafa Benítez has confirmed the majority of his squad will be fit to face West Ham United on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm BST).
The Spaniard revealed that left-back Paul Dummett was the only guaranteed absentee, after the Wales international sustained a hamstring injury whilst on international duty earlier this month.
He missed Monday's win over Burnley and won't be considered for selection against the Hammers. However, Jamaal Lascelles and Yoshinori Muto could return and Benítez insisted that players returning from the sidelines will only be a positive issue for the club as the Magpies approach a long run of fixtures in the winter period.
"We have just Dummett not fully training with the team," Benitez said. "The others - (Florian) Lejeune, (Jonjo) Shelvey, Jamaal and Muto have all completed at least one training session.
"I have problems as I have to decide the squad and I have almost everybody available. However, that is a good problem as we have many games to play in December.
"If you have more options, then you have more chances to field a strong team out on the pitch."
Dummett's injury is unlikely to be a lengthy spell on the touchline, with the 27-year-old approaching the final stages of his recovery.
"Paul was training with the fitness coach and I was watching him a little bit," said Benítez. "He was making some crosses, carrying out some runs and sprints.
"Each player is different. Sometimes you have a little problem and have to wait a little longer but he is very close."
The Magpies, who lie in 13th place in the Premier League with 12 points, have won their last three matches against West Ham at St. James' Park but Benitez remains aware of the threat the Hammers pose.
Benítez added: "Each game is different. West Ham have very good players and have spent money. They have individual players who can make the difference.
"There can be players who you may not see for 80 minutes but they could change the game within in a couple of minutes.
"Burnley were more physical so it will be different and we have to approach the game in a different way.
"What we did against Watford or Bournemouth, with the players showing great intensity, work rate and passion, can make a big difference when playing at home so hopefully we can do the same."
"I have problems as I have to decide the squad and I have almost everybody available. However, that is a good problem."