Rafa Benitez hopeful of ‘good news’ on transfer front at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez shakes hands with Gianfranco Zola.
Rafa Benitez shakes hands with Gianfranco Zola.

Rafa Benitez is hopeful of a transfer breakthrough this week at Newcastle United, writes Miles Starforth.

Benitez is looking to strengthen a midfield which has missed the suspended Jonjo Shelvey.

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

Newcastle were held to a 1-1 draw by Birmingham City at St Andrew’s in the FA Cup on Saturday.

And United manager Benitez is looking for some “good news” ahead of Saturday’s Championship game against Brentford at Griffin Park.

Asked about transfers, Benitez said: “We were just focusing on the game on Saturday.

“But I will talk with Lee and see if we can get any movement or good news this week.”

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

Benitez lost Aleksandar Mitrovic to injury at St Andrew’s, where United were backed by 4,671 fans.

The striker was given oxygen as he was stretchered off the field, 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 problem, 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.”

Daryl Murphy scored his first goal for the club against Birmingham, and the striker, signed from Ipswich Town last summer, impressed Benitez on what was only his second start for the club.

“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 a fourth-round FA Youth Cup tie at St James’s Park tonight 7pm kick-off). Admission to the East Stand is free.