Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez may have to turn to Isaac Hayden in the near future, with Ki Sung-yueng set for Asian Cup duty with South Korea.
Ki must join up with his country next week before the start of the tournament as reported by The Shields Gazette, meaning he is set to play his final game for the Magpies against Fulham this weekend before jetting off to Abu Dhabi.
It’s a big blow for Newcastle, with Ki having been an influential player for the team in recent weeks.
The ex-Swansea City man has brought an element of calm to the midfield that has complemented the tough-tackling style of Mo Diame well.
Frustratingly for Benitez, Jonjo Shelvey is also still out with a thigh injury -the Englishman will be assessed ahead of the game with the Cottagers.
A chance for Hayden to stake his claim?
With Shelvey likely still a couple of weeks away from full match fitness, there might be a chance for Hayden to stake his claim to start alongside Diame.
Ki leaving is frustrating for the club but it opens the door for others – Hayden being a man with something to prove at St. James’ Park.
With youngster Sean Longstaff sniffing around the first-team now, it’s important for him to show his quality so he doesn’t get knocked down the pecking order.
Hayden has made just five Premier League appearances this season and was sent off against Cardiff City back in August.