Rafael Benitez will be back in the dug-out tomorrow after sitting out last weekend’s win at Swansea following surgery to cure an infection that emerged after a hernia operation.
The Spaniard has presided over first-team training this week, and with no sign of any ill-effects from his lay off, will take charge of a pre-match press conference this afternoon.
He was frustrated at Newcastle’s lack of activity in the final days of the transfer window, but was previously extremely satisfied to have landed Joselu for a cut-price fee.
The striker first caught Benitez’s attention when he progressed through the youth ranks at Celta Vigo and Real Madrid, and the Newcastle boss clearly feels there is plenty of untapped potential that was not fully exploited at Stoke. Mark Hughes didn’t rate Joselu particularly highly, so Benitez’s faith has been greatly appreciated.
“Rafa is a big manager in the world of football,” said Joselu. “When he talks about you and says he has followed you, it’s nice to know. I am very happy to be working with him.
“Rafa told me to sign here, he told me many good things about the club, the city, everything. I didn’t have to think too much about it. I signed quickly and I am pleased I am here.”
Tomorrow’s game will be the first time Joselu has lined up against Stoke since he left the Potteries, but while he played in some pre-season games for his former employers earlier this summer, he insists it will not be a strange experience to line up against his recent colleagues.
And unlike some strikers, who refuse to celebrate against their former clubs, he fully expects his emotions to take over if he finds the back of the net for a second home game in a row.
“I am a striker, and I am always happy when I score,” said Joselu. “Emotion is inside every striker – all strikers will say the same thing.
“It won’t be strange because I am very focused on Newcastle, my mind is only here. It’s my team from the last two years, and I know the players and staff, but it’s over. Now I think only of Newcastle, and we need to win this game for our fans.”