Newcastle look set to lose Ki sung-yueng for several weeks following Saturdays game with Fulham – with the midfielder likely to be called up to South Korea’s squad for the Asian Cup.
The tournament takes place during January and Ki is captain , so he looks highly likely to be called up – something Rafa could tell do without given we are light on central midfield options as it is.
It was thought initially that he would leave in the new year, but the South Korean FA have the right to call him up 15 days before the Asian Cup begins – meaning he could miss games at Liverpool and Watford BEFORE the new year.
It’s a big blow for us, with him giving us a sense of calm and control in midfield in recetn weeks, Not only that, we have Jonjo Shelvey out injured (with no return date) and Isaac Hayden out of sorts following a transfer request in the summer.
There is the option of giving Sean Longstaff his big chance. It would not be like Benitez to throw him in, but he may not have much choice if Shelvey doesn’t return in the coming week or two.
We will be short in that area and it would be interesting to see if we bring anyone in even on a short term loan to cover. Of course, a loan deal would have to be from overseas as we have used up our Premier League loan allocation.