Rafa Benitez reveals waiting on specialist for star man
Newcastle fans were confidently expecting Mikel Merino to return to the starting line-up on Monday night.
However, instead it was Mohamed Diame who surprisingly got his first chance of the season, playing in the centre of midfield, alongside Jonjo Shelvey.
Mikel Merino wasn’t even amongst the substitutes, with Henri Saivet getting a rare chance to sit on the bench.
As Rafa Benitez talked through the 1-0 defeat to Burnley after the final whistle, he has also given an update on Merino’s absence.
The midfielder has a back injury and the United boss says the next step is for the 21 year old to see a specialist, then see where they go from there.
“We have to wait to see (on Mikel Merino).
“He will see a specialist and we will see how he feels.
“We will see what the specialist says after a couple of days, to see we have the right decision.”
Merino was a big miss against Burnley as Newcastle struggled to get any decent play going forward and were second best in midfield.
Having started on the bench the previous two matches, Rafa didn’t give any indication as to whether the back problem was the reason, Mikel Merino having joined the action later on in both matches against Southampton and Crystal Palace.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Burnley: Hendrick 74
Possession was Burnley 47% Newcastle 53%
Total shots were Burnley 12 Newcastle 12
Shots on target were Burnley 5 Newcastle 5
Corners were Burnley 5 Newcastle 3
Referee: Mike Dean
Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie (Murphy 79), Shelvey, Diame (Gayle 83), Atsu, Perez (Hayden 76), Joselu
Darlow, Clark, Gamez, Saivet
Crowd: 21,031 (Newcastle 2,500)
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)
(To read the match ratings from Monday’s defeat go HERE)
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