Mikel Merino has offered NUFC fans an update on his fitness levels ahead of our crucial clash with Watford, admitting that he hopes to be back to 100% ‘very soon’ – but refusing to confirm whether he’ll be ready to return for tomorrow’s big game.
The Spaniard has been sensational since arriving on Tyneside over the summer, and it is no coincidence that his absence in recent weeks has coincided in us losing our last three games.
Merino admits that he has actually suffered a break to a bone in his back, as well as a disk in his spine, but the 21-year old sounds in good spirits in his latest interview when discussing his fitness.
Here’s what he’s had to say in an exclusive interview with NUFC TV:
“It’s always hard not being able to play football, getting injured and having to watch the team while not being able to help.
“But I’ve been trying to stay positive and put 100% into my recovery and I know that now it is not long before I will be back.
“I’m now doing double sessions with the fitness coach to strengthen that and also my core. We’re also working to improve my general fitness.
“I don’t feel the pain now as much as I did at the beginning.”
After spending some time in Spain with a specialist, the midfielder returned to the North East last Friday and, after completing some partial sessions, he’s now confirmed here that he has now been taking part in full training sessions – a sign that he MIGHT just be ready to return to the squad tomorrow:
“Since I returned here I have mainly been training by myself,”
“I had only trained with the rest of team in maybe two or three sessions which were not too hard for me.
“Today I managed all of the training and I am very happy about that.
“It’s now about seeing how I feel in the next few days and how I manage in each session.
“My body feels stronger now and ready to step up and train harder.
“I feel good because I can feel the improvements day by day and that gives me more strength.
“I hope I can be back 100% very soon.”
Finally, Merino admits that he is itching to be back on the pitch to help his team-mates, however he seems aware that he may have to ease his way back into the side before making a full return:
“I want to take my time but I want to help my team too,”
“Giving it the right time is important and we all have to take care in the recovery from any injury.
“I know that the team is putting up a great effort and I can feel that from home watching the games.
“The players are working hard and I can see that when I have come back.
“Of course I want to play again with the team and help them.
“Each day I am closer and feel stronger. Each day I work harder.”
It’s good to here he’s on the mend, but I get the feeling tomorrow’s game might come too soon for him.
With Hayden suspended and Diame and Saivet two uninspiring options, it’d be a real shame if he was unable to make it, however it may be wise in the long-term not to rush such a key player back into the team after a potentially serious injury.
If he was to miss out, who would you like to see Benitez play alongside Shelvey in midfield?