Newcastle United are hopeful that Mikel Merino’s injury isn’t a long-term problem.
Merino missed Monday night’s defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor with a back problem. The midfielder – who was sent to see a specialist this week – will also sit out tomorrow’s home game against Bournemouth, which is followed by a two-week international break.
United manager Rafa Benitez will give an update on 21-year-old Merino’s injury at a press conference today.
Speaking at Turf Moor, Benitez said: “We have to wait to see. He’ll see a specialist and we’ll see how he feels.”
The international break will give Merino – who came off the bench to score the winner in ninth-placed Newcastle’s last Premier League home game – extra time to recover ahead of the club’s next game, the November 18 fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Merino, signed on a permanent deal from Borussia Dortmund last month, was missed at Turf Moor, where United struggled to create chances.
Especially at my age, if you’d said to me before joining that I would have got 50 so soon, I probably would have questioned that.Isaac Hayden
Benitez could recall Isaac Hayden to his starting XI against Bournemouth.
The midfielder was named as a substitute at Burnley after being hampered by a minor problem in the build-up to the game.
If Hayden does make it on to the pitch, he will reach a milestone in his Newcastle career. The 22-year-old, signed from Arsenal last year, is one appearance short of his 50th appearance for the club.
“It has come around quickly,” said Hayden. “It might have come around a little quicker if I wasn’t injured last season, but nonetheless, it’s a nice milestone to get to, and hopefully I can build on that and get to 100, then 150 and so on.
“Especially at my age, if you’d said to me before joining that I would have got 50 so soon, I probably would have questioned that.
“You always want to get minutes under your belt and try to improve as much as you can, because players are getting better and stronger, so the more minutes you can get, the better it’s going to be for you.
“And, thankfully, the manager trusts me to do the job that he wants me to do.
“Obviously, I’m going to have bad games and good games, but I’ve tried my best and given 110% every time I’ve played, and I think the fans appreciate that.
“Compared to when I first joined, I think I’ve definitely improved tactically.
“I’ve improved by learning from the manager, and I think there’s the confidence factor as well. When you’re playing games – whether that’s coming on or starting – you always have to be ready mentally to do your best.”
Meanwhile, United’s Freddie Woodman has been named in the latest England Under-21 squad.
Woodman, 20, is one of three goalkeepers selected for the November 10 fixture against Ukraine in Kiev by Aidy Boothroyd.