The Chronicle is reporting that Rafa Benitez is keen to get Mikel Merino back playing regularly again.
Merino suffered a back injury in late October, and he still seems to be recovering from what he calls the worst injury of his career.
Mikel hasn’t played too much lately and has only started once this year, but Rafa is also giving him time to fully recover from his injury.
There was a lot of noise about Merino possibly moving to Athletic Bilbao last month, and the La Liga club also wanted the Spanish U21 International last summer while he was at Borussia Dortmund.
Mikel Merino – in action against Burnley
But Benitez was clear that Merino was (is) going nowhere.
Rafa explained why Mikel has not featured too much lately as he said this in the Chronicle:
“It’s just a case of getting back to his perfect match fitness, that’s it.”
“It’s taken some time, now he must recover the match fitness by training and playing games.”
It looks like Mikel is now fit physically so we should see more of him in the final 12 games of the season, which will be vital for Newcastle’s survival.
This is what the 21-year-old said last month of his back injury:
“I’ve had a lot of injuries during my career.” “The back, I think, is the worst one, because it affects a lot.”
“You cannot turn. You cannot sprint. You cannot jump. These are the things you cannot do.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to play with these kinds of injuries because you feel like you can do 100%, but you’re doing 50%, and nobody knows it.”
“It’s hard, but you have to carry on.” “A lot of players play with injuries and it’s part of the sport.”
“I deal with it.”
Mikel has had an excellent first season on Tyneside, and it’s just a pity he picked up the back injury which coincided with Newcastle’s slump of only one point in 9 games starting in late October.
Let’s hope Mikel can get back to his form of early season and help us survive in the Premier League.