Newcastle midfielder Mikel Merino could be out until 2018 through injury

According to the Thursday edition of Spanish newspaper Diairio AS, via Sport Witness, Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino could be out for between six and eight weeks due to a back injury in what will be a huge blow to Rafa Benitez.

The 21-year-old was forced to pull out of the Spain U21 squad because of the problem, which Diairio AS, via Sport Witness, says is to do with a vertebrae that kept him on the sidelines in the Tyneside outfit’s last two top flight fixtures against Burnley and Bournemouth.

The news will not be well received by Benitez or the St James’ Park faithful with the Spaniard already becoming a key player for United in the Premier League this season, and scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory at home to Crystal Palace last month.

The midfielder only joined the Magpies on loan from Borussia Dortmund during the summer transfer window, but the move has already been made permanent such is the impact he has made.

If the reports are true about him being missing for at least six weeks then the 21-year-old will miss the Premier League fixtures against Manchester United, Watford, West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea, Leicester City, Everton, Arsenal and West Ham United, while if it is the longer time-frame then he will also be absent against Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Stoke City during the busy festive period.