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Newcastle United: Mbemba injury update; Anita contract situation; Pardew talks Ashley

The latest injury news regarding Chancel Mbemba sheds some light of why he hasn’t be involved in recent weeks. The Chronicle report that he is still recovering from a leg injury that he sustained in training last week. Mbemba suffered a painful burn on his leg, which is why he hasn’t been involved in either of the two matches after the international break. Although the injury doesn’t sound bad, it has to be treated with care, otherwise an infection could occur. Benitez had this to say on his centre back:

“We have Chancel who has a grass burn. He is not feeling well and I don’t see him as 100%.”

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His absence has allowed the centre back pairing of Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles to establish itself and the DR Congo international could have difficulty getting back into the first eleven. The defence is one area that can’t be rotated with ease and Benitez may opt to stick with the current pairing for the foreseeable future. The Newcastle supporters believe that Mbemba is their best centre back and will be keen to see him back in the team. His talent is obvious, but he is still raw in some areas. It will be interesting to see if he can get back into the team after recovering from injury.

Vurnon Anita is in the last year of his contract, but he seems to be keen to extend his stay at St James Park. He has emerged as one of Benitez’s most trusted lieutenants, with his versatility allowing him to provide cover in several positions. At the moment, he is the first choice right back at the club and there is certainly a good chance that the club will offer him a renewal before the end of the season.

“There was some indirect interest, also from the Netherlands.

“At Newcastle, I have experienced many good times, but in difficult times like now, I did not feel ready to need to leave.

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“And I liked working with the manager, Rafa Benitez, in the second half of last season.

“My contract expires after this season, so it’s a year on full throttle.”

He has never excelled in the black and white, but he is well liked by Benitez and there could be a future for him at the club. Although he is unlikely to be a regular starter if the club are promoted, he offers good cover in a number of positions and his wage demands won’t be enormous.

Former Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has claimed that Mike Ashley has ‘learned lessons’ that he was trying to teach him when he was at the club. The current Crystal Palace boss managed to finish 5th during his time at St James Park, but the supporters never fully took to him. There were doubts about his ability to manage egos and the club are now in a much stronger position without him.

“I kept nagging (Ashley), kept telling him I thought the process was wrong. I made that very clear behind closed doors,”

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Mike Ashley has changed his approach over the last 12 months, which resulted in the appointment of world class manager Rafa Benitez. The club are now showing green shoots of recovery and there is some truth in Pardew’s words. It will be interesting how big a role the owner plays in the future and whether he allows Benitez to do his job without interference. Newcastle were once a stepping stone club under Pardew, but they are now emerging in their own right and the future looks bright on Tyneside.

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