A week ago the Spanish media claimed (see below) that Mikel Merino was set to be missing until the new year.

The Newcastle midfielder having picked up a back injury against Liverpool nine weeks ago and not starting a game since.

Although he did come on as a sub against both Southampton and Crystal Palace, as Rafa Benitez attempted to manage the injury.

Mikel Merino scored a late winner against Palace but then Rafa Benitez was forced to leave the 21 year old out of his squad for both Burnley and Bournemouth, United losing the two games.

Rafa spoke of the player being out for ‘a couple of weeks’ and hopefully his diagnosis is proving nearer the mark.

Spanish radio station SER Deportivos Navarra have revealed that Mikel Merino has been allowed to travel back to see family and friends in his home city of Pamplona.

Whilst there, he has been using the facilities of his old club Osasuna as he recovers from the back problem.

They have posted a video (see below) of Merino training by himself and hopefully this is a positive sign backing up Rafa’s view that the player will be back this month rather than the new year.

SER Deportivos Navarra state ‘Mikel Merino completes the recovery of his back injury’ but however far he is along with that, there doesn’t look to be any chance of him being involved at Old Trafford, as they also say that the Spanish Under 21 star isn’t returning to Newcastle until Friday.

Hopefully he may be ready to join in with the squad training sometime next week, here’s hoping.

SER Deportivos Navarra:

“Mikel Merino completes the recovery of his back injury at the Osasuna facilities in Tajonar before returning on Friday to Newcastle.”

The Mag – 9 November 2017:

Mikel Merino hasn’t started a Newcastle game for almost six weeks now.

The Spaniard last was named in Newcastle’s starting eleven in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Even though he then went away and played for the Spanish Under 21 team, on his return he was surprisingly dropped to the bench for the next two matches.

Coming on as a substitute against Southampton and Crystal Palace, it was hoped the midfielder was simply getting a bit of a breather before returning to the team.

However, when then left out altogether from the squad to face Burnley, it was revealed that Mikel Merino had a back injury. Rafa Benitez saying the problem had actually first arisen during that Liverpool match – but Newcastle obviously trying to manage the injury and keep the player involved in games at the same time as an impact sub.

Missing though from the squad on Saturday against Bournemouth as well, Rafa has spoken of the player being out for a ‘couple of weeks’.

The news/claims from Spain on Thursday morning are less encouraging though.

Diario AS are reporting that Mikel Merino is set to miss the next six to eight weeks, which would effectively rule him out until the New Year.’