By Russell Edge

31st Oct, 2017 | 6:30am

Benitez delivers major blow over Newcastle fans' favourite - likely to miss Bournemouth clash

By Russell Edge

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has revealed that midfielder Mikel Merino will have to see a specialist about a back injury after missing the club’s clash with Burnley on Monday night.

The Spanish youngster was a surprise exclusion from the squad named at Turf Moor, the club revealing his injury which left fans frustrated and worried about his situation.

Unfortunately for the club, and for the Toon Army, it appears that it could be a more serious issue than hoped, with Benitez confirming that he has had to seek specialist medical advice and that he is likely to miss the Magpies’ home clash against Bournemouth next weekend.

The Spanish manager told the Shields Gazette: “We have to wait to see.

“He’ll see a specialist and we’ll see how he feels.

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“We’ll see what the specialist says after a couple of days to see we have the right decision.”

Merino has become a firm fans’ favourite on Tyneside following his initial loan move from Borussia Dortmund, having impressed with his performances in the middle of the park.

It was not just the supporters who liked what they saw from the 21-year-old, with the club choosing to tie him down to a permanent, 5-year contract after his bright start to the season.

Starting on the bench in recent matches, his place was taken by Isaac Hayden, who himself had reportedly suffered a minor injury in the build up to Monday’s game, which meant Mo Diame was handed a starting role.

However he failed to impress, with fans turning to Twitter to berate his display.

In other Newcastle United news, the club look set to make a record-breaking bid for an international striker.

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