By Russell Edge
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has confirmed that the quartet of injury doubts at the club are all closing in on a return but that they will most likely all be missing for their clash against Watford on Saturday.
The Spanish boss has had deal with the absence of first team regulars Jamaal Lascelles, Christian Atsu and Mikel Merino in recent weeks, as they have all joined Paul Dummett, injured on the opening day of the season, in the treatment room.
Minus the Welsh defender, the trio had appeared in every one of the club’s league games this season prior to their respective injuries, and Benitez has confirmed that while they are recovering well, it is still too early to judge when they will be back in first team action, with the Spanish midfielder the most likely to return first.
He told the club’s official website: “Lascelles is getting better, but still he will need some time, and Atsu is the same. It is too early to say.
“Merino has been doing part of the training session and Dummett has done the full training session, so that is positive news for us.
“I think it’s important to have players coming back. With Merino, he was doing so well and the fans were so excited.
“If he is OK it will be a big boost for everyone, because you always need quality.”
Merino’s last outing saw him net the winning goal in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, while Lascelles and Atsu both went off injured in the 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth prior to the international break, and it will be a major blow that they are set to sit out yet another match.
The Magpies, currently sitting in 11th after their 4-1 defeat to Manchester United, will welcome the Hornets to St James’ Park three places and four points behind the visitors.
In other Newcastle United news, a report states that takeover talks are on the brink of collapsing.