Date: 20th March 2017 at 8:30pm
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Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has praised centre back Grant Hanley for his performance against Birmingham City at the weekend.

The Scottish international replaced the injured Ciaran Clark for the match, and helped keep a clean sheet in the 0-0 stalemate at St Andrews. Benitez gave a┬áspecial mention to the 25 year old’s communication which kept Newcastle’s back line organised:

“I knew he would do well because he has been training really well right the way through. Even when he was not involved, he was always positive and trying to help his team-mates. He is someone who really talks in defence. It was not easy for him because their striker [Lukas Jutkiewicz] is really strong but he did well.”

Unfortunately for Hanley, after making only his second start in the space of two months, he picked up an injury which will keep him out of Scotland’s matches against Canada and Slovenia during the international break.

Newcastle’s injury problems at the back are mounting with Hanley, Ciaran Clark and DeAndre Yedlin all out injured, while Paul Dummett and Vurnon Anita are battling knocks despite starting against Birmingham on Saturday.

Rafa Benitez may have to call on the services of defender Chancel Mbemba who took to Twitter on Friday to state he will not “give up” despite his minimal playing time this season for the Magpies.