At his Friday lunchtime press conference, Rafa Benitez has given a fitness update ahead of Manchester United.

The two week international break hasn’t been enough to get certain players back and in once case has worsened the situation.

Newcastle United now heading into a period of 11 Premier League games across a 44 day period and needing as many fit as possible.

Rafa confirms that Paul Dummett is back training but will not be ready for tomorrow’s game.

Christian Atsu aggravated an injury when on international duty with Ghana but the United boss says the news isn’t too bad.

Atsu is set to be out for around two weeks, so could potentially be back to face  his old club Chelsea on Saturday 2 December at Stamford Bridge.

Arguably Newcastle’s best player this season, Mikel Merino has been badly missed.

On Thursday he was seen training on his own over at Osasuna, his old club, and Rafa Benitez has revealed that the midfielder went back home with the club’s blessing and was accompanied by a member of NUFC training staff, to help with his recovery.

Good news is that Rafa says Mikel Merino could be back for Watford next Saturday, if he stays pain free during training this coming week.

As for Jamaal Lascelles, he is definitely out of the Man Utd game but Rafa is expecting to have an update in the coming week as to how his injury is going to pan out.

As for international pair Ciaran Clark and Rob Elliot, the manager confirmed that they have returned to the training ground available for the game at Old Trafford.