NUFC midfielder Mikel Merino has made a slightly worrying admission on his fitness following his return to Rafa Benitez’s starting 11 on Saturday, admitting to how ‘tired’ he felt during the 2-0 defeat at Anfield over the weekend.
Since returning from a back injury he’s not quite recaptured his early season form, however it was quite clear that he looked off the pace and particularly leggy on Saturday – and his comments here confirm that.
This is a concern given the importance of Saturday’s game and the fact he’ll be needed once again, with Jonjo Shelvey set to miss out once again despite his injury not being as serious as first feared.
Here’s what the Spaniard has had to say, admitting that he felt tired during the game after being hooked off by Benitez after 70 minutes:
“I felt tired out there,”
“When you’re not playing regularly, that’s normal, because minutes on the pitch give you energy.
“It’s not easy when you are defending all the game, but I worked hard and tried to do what the coach wanted.”
He is bound to not be up to speed in terms of match fitness, with this having been just his second start since the turn of the year, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be needed on Saturday in the relegation six-pointer against Southampton.
I have real faith in the lad, with him showing his class earlier in the season, but fitness is a separate issue and something he looked to be severely lacking against Liverpool.
Hopefully his energy levels are restored for Saturday, with NUFC fans (including myself) clearly recognising how leggy he looked at Anfield just a few days ago:
Merino is knackered……didn’t track his man for the goal and running more and more out of steam – time to freshen up #nufc
— Michael Gallon (@MichaelGallon) March 3, 2018
Hasn’t looked the same since returning from injury. Looks rusty and well off the pace.
— GallowgateShots (@GallowgateShots) March 4, 2018