After Rafa Benitez confirmed Mikel Merino will be out for a ‘few weeks’ prior to Saturday’s game with Bournemouth, it has now been revealed by the Shields Gazette that the Spaniard is likely to be out for the whole of November – meaning he’d miss our next three league games and return for our trip to Chelsea on the 2nd of December.
The Spaniard is understood to have seen a specialist this week, confirming a back injury that he sustained in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool last month.
Benitez stated in last week’s pre-match presser that he’d be out for ‘at least’ a few weeks and this update suggest he could be missing for our next three games.
As you’d expect, he’s withdrawn from Spain U-21’s squad for this week’s international break and looks set to miss our game with Manchester United at Old Trafford (November 18th) – with Watford at home (25th Nov) and West Brom away (28th Nov) looking like games he could also be absent for.
— Shields Gazette (@shieldsgazette) November 4, 2017
Hopefully he can recover sooner than the early signs are suggesting – we could really do with a player of his quality back in the side after two lacklustre displays ever since his winner against Palace at St James’.
He’s been a miss in the midfield, with him having the unique trait to be defensively aware and strong in the tackle, but deceptively good with the ball at his feet – something Hayden doesn’t do quite so well.
Rafa has stated that it will depend how he ‘responds to the treatment’, so fingers crossed he can return earlier than we expect.
We could do with his presence in midfield for the more ‘winnable’ games against Watford and West Brom later this month – especially with tough trips to Manchester United and Chelsea falling either side of those!