Mikel Merino reveals why he's hopeful ahead of Newcastle's home double-header against Leicester and Everton

Mikel Merino and Willian
Mikel Merino and Willian

Mikel Merino's relishing Newcastle United's double-header at St James's Park.

Rafa Benitez's side take on Leicester City on Saturday.

The fixture is followed by a December 13 home game against Everton.

Newcastle, beaten 3-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, are 15th in the Premier League after taking one point from their last six matches.

Merino and his team-mates know they must take points from the Leicester and Everton games with tough fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester City on the horizon.

“Playing at home is always an advantage for us," said the midfielder. "The strength of the crowd's important, and I think with all the strength they give us, we'll improve.

“We know we have to keep working like this. We have to be patient and confident in our possibilities."

Merino isn't yet 100% after recovering from a recent back problem.

“I’ve played a few matches in a row after the injury," said the 21-year-old, signed on a permanent deal from Borussia Dortmund in October.

"I think I’ve responded well – I'm feeling better. I'm not at 100%, but it's a question of time.”

Newcastle took the lead against Chelsea through a 12th-minute Dwight Gayle goal.

They had also taken the lead against Manchester United at Old Trafford last month – Gayle was again the scorer – and Merino believes are similarities between the two games.

“It was near the same game," Merino told NUFC TV. "They're great teams, and if you start scoring, they wake up and they go with all they have.

“In both games, we made a good start, in both halves, but in the end the individual skills they have won the match.

“Chelsea are a really good team – they have pace, they have ability and they are individually one of the strongest teams in the Premier League.

"The way they play is so hard to play against. We started by scoring a goal, but in the end they have pace, ability and they have won the match.”