By 90Min
November 20, 2018

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez could be dealt a severe blow in January, with Ki Sung-Yueng and Yoshinori Muto both set to be called up by South Korea and Japan respectively for Asian Cup duties.

The Magpies have endured a dreadful start to the league season, but have begun to turn things around in recent weeks, picking up two wins and a draw in their last three league games. That has elevated them up to 14th in the Premier League table, but this latest news comes as a setback for the Toon.

With January's Asian Cup on the horizon, the Chronicle report it's likely that both Ki and Muto will be called up by their home nations - leaving the Newcastle boss with two gaps to plug for potentially the whole month, depending on how the two nations fare.

The competition starts on January 5 and should both players reach the final, they will not return until after February 1. There is also a possibility that both countries will organise pre-tournament training camps, meaning the duo could depart Tyneside before the new year.


Not only does the tournament potentially last an entire month, it is also taking place in the United Arab Emirates - meaning that the journey time will be long and tiring for both players.

Japan face off against Turkmenistan, Oman and Uzbekistan in the group stages, while Ki's South Korea face the Philippines, China and Kyrgyzstan.

GEOFF CADDICK/GettyImages

Presuming the pair are both selected, they will likely miss two Premier League crunch matches against Manchester United and Chelsea, along with a potential six-pointer against Cardiff. The FA Cup third round will also come too soon for either Muto or Ki to feature.

In addition to these games, should both players reach the final then Benitez will be without them for Newcastle's fixtures against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur as well. 

Before that though, Newcastle face an away trip to Burnley when the Premier League returns this weekend, with Benitez's charges seeking a third consecutive win.

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