Benitez seeks transfer breakthrough ahead of Brentford clash

Rafa Benitez is hopeful of a transfer breakthrough this week at Newcastle United.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 3:00 am
Birmingham City celebrate Lukas Jutkiewicz's leveller against Newcastle. Picture by Terry Rickeard

Benitez, whose side were held to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City in Saturday’s FA Cup tie, is looking to strengthen a midfield which has missed the suspended Jonjo Shelvey.

Asked about transfers, Benitez said: “We were just focusing on the game on Saturday (the visit to Brentford has been brought forward from Monday because of the cup replay).

“But I will talk with Lee (Charnley, managing director) and see if we can get any movement or good news this week.”

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Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a loan target, while the Magpies have also been linked with Everton duo Tom Cleverley and James McCarthy.

Benitez lost Aleksandar Mitrovic to injury at St Andrew’s.

The striker was given oxygen as he was stretchered off, but the injury – a deep cut to his leg – was not as bad as first feared.

Mitrovic could return later this month and the injury won’t have any bearing on Newcastle’s transfer plans.

Asked if it was a long-term proble, Benitez said: “I don’t think necessarily long-term. For us, it doesn’t change too much our decisions (on transfers).

“We will see how he is, but we were thinking before and it is the same situation.

“For him it is a blow. Hopefully, he will be fine, but in terms of the transfer window we were not considering anything.”

Ex-Sunderland striker Daryl Murphy scored his first goal for the Tynesiders at Birmingham, and the Irishman impressed Benitez in only his second start.

“I have been really pleased with his attitude,” said Benitez. “He has been a great professional, then he got injured and after that we couldn’t give him continuity, but we are really pleased with him.

“He must keep working, but he has a problem – that is Dwight Gayle, because he is scoring so many goals.

“I am happy with Daryl and even Mitrovic. It was a pity to lose Mitrovic, because the two of them, they could be a threat for defenders and we had to change everything.

“But Murphy, Mitro and Gayle are three good strikers, all working well – it’s a good problem for me.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle take on Swansea City in an FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at St James’s Park tonight (7pm). Admission to the East Stand is free.

Birmingham: Legzdins, Spector (Dacres-Cogley 44), Shotton, Robinson, Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Gleeson, Davis, Adams, Fabbrini (Stewart 79), Jutkiewicz. Subs not used: Tesche, Cotterill, Brown, Morrison, Kuszczak. Goal: Jutkiewicz 42

Newcastle: Sels, Yedlin, Lascelles, Hanley, Haidara (Ritchie 70), Anita, Colback, Tiote (Hayden 65), Lazaar, Murphy, Mitrovic (Gouffran 10). Subs not used: Clark, Dummett, Gayle, Darlow. Booked: Hayden. Goal: Murphy 6

Att: 13,171. Ref: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).