RAFAEL BENITEZ will be back in the St James’ Park dug-out on Saturday after making a successful return to work earlier today.

The Newcastle United manager was forced to miss his side’s 1-0 win at Swansea City on Sunday after undergoing surgery to cure an infection that followed an earlier hernia operation.

In his absence, ‘Paco’ de Miguel Moreno oversaw events at the Liberty Stadium, with Benitez relaying instructions via telephone, but things will return to normal when Newcastle return to action against Stoke City this weekend.

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Benitez travelled to the North-East last night, and was back at work at the Magpies’ Benton training ground this morning. He did not work with the first-team players as they were on a scheduled day off, but he will oversee first-team training tomorrow morning and is expected to conduct his usual pre-match media responsibilities at the end of the week prior to taking charge of Saturday’s game.

He is also expected to hold discussions with Dwight Gayle and Jack Colback after the duo failed to move in the closing hours of the transfer window.

Gayle was the subject of a £12m offer from Fulham, while Colback spoke with Wolves officials about a possible loan move to Molineux, but neither deal came to fruition.

Gayle was a 78th-minute substitute at Swansea on Sunday, and is expected to remain in the squad for the Stoke game. Colback has been training with Newcastle’s academy players, and it remains to be seen whether Benitez is willing to offer an olive branch to the former Sunderland midfielder.

Doubts over the Newcastle manager’s future have subsided somewhat in the last few days, with sources close to Benitez claiming he is fully focused on working with the current squad to achieve as high a Premier League finish as possible.

Speculation linking the Spaniard with a possible move to West Ham United was dampened by the Hammers’ 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town last night, a result that strengthened Slaven Bilic’s hold on the managerial position at the London Stadium.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Under-23s boss Peter Beardsley has praised Jonjo Shelvey for his professional approach to last night's outing with the second-string squad.

Shelvey played the full 90 minutes of the Under-23s’ 2-2 draw with Norwich City in an attempt to improve his fitness after a month-long lay-off caused by his dismissal against Spurs on the opening weekend of the season and his subsequent failure to force his way back into the senior starting line-up at Swansea.

“It was great for the young players to have 90 minutes with Jonjo,” said Beardsley. “We were intending to take him off, but Curtis Good had a groin strain. Because of that, we took no risks.

“But the way Jonjo was around the group, he was top class. It is a big bonus for the young players to have those 90 minutes and the time with him during the pre-match period.”