Newcastle United may have to make do without defender Chancel Mbemba for the clash against Swansea City on Sunday (10 September) after the DR Congo international suffered an injury during his country's 2-2 draw with Tunisia on Tuesday.
Mbemba has featured in all of Newcastle's opening three Premier League fixtures, starting twice, but he may have to sit out the trip to south Wales with an unspecified knock sustained on the hour mark against Tunisia, according to the Shields Gazzette.
The 23-year-old opened the scoring for Congo as Florent Ibengé's side blew a two-goal lead against Tunisia and saw their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup fade significantly at the Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa.
The news of Mbemba's injury will be a major worry for Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez, who could be without four first-team defenders against Swansea. Along with Mbemba, Florian Lejeune, Paul Dummett and Deandre Yedlin are all struggling with knocks and niggles, while goalkeeper Karl Darlow is currently sidelined with an ankle problem.
Benitez also has selection problems to contend with up front; Dwight Gayle could miss the trip to Swansea through illness, while hot-headed forward Aleksandar Mitrovic is set to start a three-match ban after being slapped with a retrospective suspension for elbowing Manuel Lanzini during Newcastle's 3-0 win over West Ham United last month.
Mitrovic's failure to control his temper has not exactly impressed Benitez, who has been reluctant to start the former Anderlecht starlet due to his penchant for a red card and was apparently willing to sell him in the summer. Even so, Serbia manager Slavoljub Muslin has seen fit to make the 22-year-old his first-choice attacker and believes he feels more "comfortable" playing for his country.
"Maybe the system we play with three attackers suits him better," Muslin was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
"Perhaps the coach in Newcastle doesn't have as much confidence in him as I do. He is our first centre forward. Perhaps he feels more comfortable playing for the national team than he does for his own club."