Mikel Merino and Ciaran Clark dropped for Newcastle's visit to Southampton

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

Rafa Benitez has left Mikel Merino and Ciaran Clark out of his Newcastle United starting XI at the St Mary's Stadium.

Florian Lejeune and Isaac Hayden have been recalled to Benitez's side for this afternoon's game against Southampton (4pm kick-off).

Midfielder Merino was away with Spain's Under-21s during the international break, while defender Clark was with the Republic of Ireland.

erino this week signed a five-year deal at the club after his loan move from Borussia Dortmund was converted into a permanent switch.

Otherwise, United manager Benitez has named an unchanged side for the televised Premier League game.

A win for ninth-placed Newcastle would take the club into the top six.

Ciaran Clark

Ciaran Clark

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden; Ritchie, Perez, Atsu; Joselu. Subs: Darlow, Clark, Gamez, Merino, Diame, Murphy, Gayle.

SOUTHAMPTON: Forster, Cedric, van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu, Tadic, Redmond; Gabbiadini, Long. Subs: McCarthy, Hoedt, Davis, Austin, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, McQueen.