Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez faces media ahead of Watford, John Barnes reflects on his St James's Park career

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

Rafa Benitez will face the media today ahead of Newcastle United's home game against Watford.

Benitez is holding his pre-match press conference at 1.30pm.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Newcastle's manager will give an update on the injury situation at the club ahead of the Premier League fixture.

We have five questions for Benitez ahead of the game.

Meanwhile, United's Under-23s are in action away to Fulham this afternoon.

Here's your daily briefing:

John Barnes

John Barnes

Next steps

Mikel Merino has spoken about his comeback ahead of the Watford game.

The midfielder has missed the last three games with a back problem.

Merino, signed from Borussia Dortmund last month, is back in light training.

"I hope to be 100% soon," said the Spain Under-21 international. "I think we're doing the right things, the proper steps. I'm ready to start training harder.

"I want to take my time and I want to help the team as well. We have to take care about every injury. I know that the team is doing great job. We're working hard, and I can see it in training."

Price tag

Jacob Murphy could keep his place in Benitez's starting XI after being recalled for last weekend's game against Manchester United.

The winger, signed from Norwich City in the summer for £12million, has largely been used as a substitute this season.

But goalkeeper Rob Elliot believes Murphy is ready to shine at his boyhood club.

“He’s a young kid, and he had a big price tag coming here, and it’s taken him a little while to settle," said Elliot.

"But he has great ability. He’s a really good lad who works hard.

“And, again, like a lot of our players, he’s young and he’s learning the game at the highest level. I thought he did really well (against Man United). Hopefully, this is just the start for him and we see a lot more of him in the future.”

Verdict

Former Newcastle midfielder John Barnes has given his verdict on a takeover at St James's Park.

Barnes, an ambassador for Bonus Code Bets, has also spoken about the job Rafa Benitez is doing at United in an exclusive interview.

And he has revealed his abiding memory of his time at the club.