Newcastle United have been handed a huge injury boost as the overcrowded Christmas football period looms, with midfielder Mikel Merino back in training again after being sidelined with a back injury last month.
The 21-year-old was ruled out ahead of the Magpies' 1-0 defeat to Burnley in late October and also missed their dramatic last minute loss at home to Bournemouth before the international break.
The Spaniard has been one of the Toon's outstanding performers this campaign, taking his chance during teammate Jonjo Shelvey's suspension absence to lay claim to a regular starting spot under boss Rafa Benitez.
Speaking at last week's NUFC Foundation dinner, the former Real Madrid and Liverpool manager stated it could be some time before Merino would be available for selection again.
“Next week it will be more clear how long he is out for but a couple of weeks at least for Merino”, the 57-year-old told The Chronicle.
However, a video has since surfaced on Twitter of the Spain Under-21 international entering the final stages of his rehabilitation process and getting back into training.
The Magpies make the trip to Manchester United this weekend, a clash which will obviously come too soon for Merino after almost a month sidelined.
However, the news of an imminent return for one of their stars of the season will buoy the St James' Park faithful, who were left frustrated in recent weeks with their side's over defensive mentality.
The Spaniard initially joined Newcastle on loan during the summer from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. However the signing was made permanent after recording the pre-determined amount of games earlier this campaign.