For all of the continuous off-field antics surrounding Newcastle as of late, Rafa Benitez could be left to solve on-the-pitch issues ahead of his team’s tie against Bournemouth on Saturday.

The Magpies put to bed a poor opening few months to the season by beating Watford 1-0 at home last weekend, but Keith Downie from Sky Sports reports that two of those starting players are out with muscle injuries.

Jonjo Shelvey, Yoshinori Muto and Jamaal Lascelles were all subbed off early in that victory against the Hornets and it appears that only the latter will be declared fit enough to face Bournemouth at St James’ Park.

Shelvey, who missed much of August and early September through injury, had started the last six league matches in the heart of midfield.

While the extent of the 26-year-old’s injury is currently unclear, Ki Sung-yueng will be expected to fill the void against the Cherries, having replaced Shelvey minutes before assisting Ayoze Perez’s winner last Saturday.

Japanese international Muto will also be unlikely to feature come Saturday afternoon, according to Downie’s Twitter update. The attacking midfielder has enjoyed a few lengthy spells in the first team recently, notably using Shelvey’s low cross to convert the second goal against Manchester United last month.

Despite the uncertainties with absent midfielders, Benitez looks set to have captain Lascelles back in the side, as he returned to training on Wednesday.

Bournemouth, regardless of their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last Saturday, enjoyed a sublime run of form in October. They have failed to score just once in their previous six Premier League fixtures, again reinforcing the importance of Lascelles’ return to defensive duties for Newcastle.

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