Newcastle United’s Mikel Merino could be sidelined until next month.
Merino – who missed Monday night’s defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor with a back problem – is out of this afternoon’s home game against Bournemouth.
And the midfielder – who saw a specialist this week – isn’t expected to be back for the November 18 game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Merino could also miss the Premier League fixtures against Watford and West Bromwich Albion later this month.
Asked about a timescale for the 21-year-old’s comeback, United manager Rafa Benitez said: “It’s not clear.
“We know he’s not available and we have to start treatment.
We know he’s not available and we have to start treatment. It depends how he responds to the treatment.Rafa Benitez
“It depends how he responds to the treatment.
“It could be a couple of weeks, or it could be a little bit more, but at least a couple of weeks.”
Spain Under-21 international Merino, signed from Borussia Dortmund on a permanent deal last month, is also missing two European Championship qualifiers.
Benitez added: “We’ll see how he’s doing.
“He won’t go with the national team.
“We’ll have to wait to see how his lower back is.
“He’ll have treatment and we will see.
“We know he’s not available, so we have to concentrate on the other players.”
Isaac Hayden, Merino’s midfield colleague, started the Burnley game on the bench, having had a “little problems” in the build-up to the game.
However, Hayden is fit enough to start against Bournemouth at St James’s Park this afternoon.
“Last week we have Hayden with little problems,” said Benitez, who had handed Mohamed Diame his first Premier League start of the season at Turf Moor.
“But, for this game, he’s fine, so we have options.”
On United’s opponents, Benitez added: “Bournemouth are a good team with a good manager (Eddie Howe). They’re quite dangerous in counter-attack.”