Rafa Benitez will not take any risks with Newcastle United top scorer Dwight Gayle.
Gayle is set to miss this afternoon’s Championship game at Preston.
The striker felt his hamstring this week and Benitez will err on the side of caution given 11-goal Gayle’s importance to the league leaders.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – who scored two goals against Preston in Tuesday’s 6-0 EFL Cup win – is on standby to lead the line at Deepdale.
Benitez is still without striker Daryl Murphy, who is recovering from a calf problem.
Gayle has previously had hamstring problems, and Benitez will be mindful of this when assessing him.
Benitez said: “He’s a big doubt. “He felt his hamstring a little bit. We don’t want to take the risk, especially with Mitrovic scoring goals.
“We have Ayoze (Perez) and Mitro. Murphy is still not available.”
Benitez feels his players, used to playing balls in behind for Gayle, will have to “adapt a little” to Mitrovic, should he play at Deepdale.
“You have to adapt a little, but against Queens Park Rangers we did well with Mitro up front,” he said.
“It’s not that we need to change too many things, but it will be a big difference in terms of playing in behind the defenders. He will be unlikely to run behind like Gayle.
“Maybe he will become more of a target man for us instead.
“He was working very hard the other day, even with his runs, so I think it will be more or less similar in terms of how we play.
“But a difference could be the other team. It will be a tough game, because they will be pushing and pressing all the time.
“Our game has to be similar – not exactly the same, but similar.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s EFL Cup quarter final against Hull City at the KCOM Stadium will be played on November 29 (7.45pm kick-off).
Hull have turned down Newcastle’s request for a bigger allocation of tickets.
Newcastle – who drew a 49,042 crowd to St James’s Park on Tuesday for their fourth-round tie against Preston – are set to get around 2,500 seats. It is understood that the club had asked for more tickets.
However, the Premier League club turned the approach down.
The Hull Daily Mail report that the club, which has reduced ticket prices for home fans, wants to “maximise home support”.
Hull’s average league attendance at their 25,000-capacity ground this season is 21,582.