With Yoshinori Muto and Ki Sung-yueng set to be called up to Japan and South Korea’s squads for the 2019 Asian Cup, Rafa Benitez looks likely to be without the first-team duo for the month of January.
It would certainly be a blow as NUFC finally appear to have some options in the squad to create competition for places and the starting XI. It is options like KI and Muto, and Schar of course, that have helped us climb out of the relegation zone and ensures the likes of Shelvey and Perez have to play well to keep the shirt.
Here’s a snippet from the Chronicle’s piece on the Asian pair:
‘Newcastle United could be dealt a big blow in January with Rafa Benitez facing the possibility of losing both Yoshinori Muto and Ki Sung-yueng for up to a month.
‘The pair are likely to be picked by their countries for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup which takes place in the United Arab Emirates from January 5 to February 1.
‘Muto could be called up by Japan while South Korea are likely to want their skipper Ki to lead them out for the finals of the competition next year.’
Both players struggled initially at Newcastle following their summer arrival but have found from recently, so a month away comes at a bad time for them too. Muto scored a great goal at Old Trafford during our 3-2 reverse last month and has showed flashes of the agile striker that did well for Mainz in the Bundesliga.
Ki barely made the match day squad after his free transfer from Swansea but he has taken his chance with both hands after the recent injury to Shelvey; coming on and changing the game in the vital win over Watford and similarly impressing against Bournemouth.
Rafa has a decision to make on Ki, Shelvey and Diame over the next month but on current form, it would be hard to leave the South Korean skipper out.
Let’s hope we can get the wins needed in December to compensate for the absence of both Muto and Ki and climb further away from danger.