By 90Min
December 21, 2018

Newcastle's Yoshinori Muto has provided Rafa Benitez with an early Christmas present after agreeing to delay his departure for the Asian Cup until after Christmas. 

The Japanese striker has struggled for fitness and game time since his arrival in the summer, making just 11 appearances in all competitions thus far. His fitness problems were initially going to cost him a place in the Japan squad for the Asian Cup, but the JFA decided he was too valuable to leave behind.

In light of this, Muto was set to miss the entirety of Newcastle's hectic festive fixture list, like his teammate Ki Seung Yeung. However, Japan's manager Hajime Moriyasu has allowed the forward to join the squad later so he can work on his form and fitness with Newcastle, as reported by the Chronicle.

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This will come as a huge boost for Benitez, who was keen for Muto to stay and continue his work with the Newcastle squad.

The Spanish manager said: "I had a conversation with him and he was waiting. He told me that the Premier League was really important for him and he wants to do well.

"He wants to settle down. Sometimes we don't realise how hard it can be to bring in overseas players. We have had players here that after two years they weren't talking in English. So players need time. He is trying to learn his trade and making sure he is integrated into the group. He is doing well but it is better that he is around in January."

Whilst Muto is set to stay with Newcastle until early/mid-January, should Japan reach the final of the Asian Cup then Benitez will be without the striker until early February.

Newcastle midfielder Ki, meanwhile, could play his last game before departing with South Korea against Fulham on Saturday. However, Benitez is in discussion with the South Korea manager Paulo Bento in an attempt to reduce the amount of games Ki will miss for the Magpies. 

Benitez said: "Officially he can go and he will have to go. We are trying to see for how long, that is important.

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"They have a training camp but South Korea have the right to call him up 15 days before the tournament."

Having beaten 1-0 in their last fixture, Newcastle next face bottom-of-the-league Fulham as they bid to increase the four point gap between them and the relegation zone.

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