Where is Santiago Munoz? Newcastle United coach provides latest and possible return time-frame
Over three months have passed since Santiago Munoz arrived at Newcastle United and his dream is still yet to really begin.
The 19-year-old forward signed for The Magpies on an 18-month loan with an option to buy from Liga MX side Santos Laguna on transfer deadline day back in August.
Munoz’s arrival on Tyneside was well-publicised due to the obvious link with his fictitious near-namesake Santiago Munez from the 2005 movie ‘Goal!’
But the Mexico under-23 international is not in the first-team picture and is still yet to make his debut for United’s under-23s side. In training, he has largely been limited to individual physical conditioning sessions as he works on his fitness.
And Newcastle under-23s’ lead player development coach Elliott Dickman explained Munoz’s prolonged absence and speculated a possible time-frame for his return.
“Santi’s injured, he’s still doing part of his rehab,” he told The Gazette. “It's probably going to be after Christmas, I would imagine, before we see Santi in a match situation.
“The staff are working very hard with him to try to get him ready for that one when that comes.”
On the nature or severity of Munoz’s injury, Dickman added: “I can't [say anything more] to be honest.”
On Monday evening, Dickman coached The Magpies’ under-23s side to a 2-0 derby win over his former club Sunderland in the Premier League 2 Division 2.
"It's nice to win a derby game,” the 43-year-old said. “I think the sending off [for Sunderland], maybe changed the game a little bit. But up until that point, I thought we were still good and I thought we stuck with our game plan that we implemented very, very well.
"I'm pleased we kept the clean sheet. We've been speaking quite a bit about it in recent weeks so I’m delighted for the team that we've done that.
"It's never easy against 10 but it's a different challenge for the players and it’s a couple of times we've come across it now. We’re asking our lot to do one or two different things and challenge them in a different way.
“And some of it was good, some of it could be a little bit better. We'll work harder and hopefully we'll be better the next time if we come across 10 men.”