Rafa Benitez has made it clear that Jack Colback is not close to returning to the first team with Newcastle United - despite a back injury to Mikel Merino.

The former Sunderland and Ipswich Town man was relegated to the reserves after failing to agree a summer move to either Hull City or Wolverhampton Wanderers.

And Benitez has suggested that’s where he will stay as he looks to maintain a close-knit squad at the first team end of the club’s Benton base.

Benitez was asked about Colback’s situation today after news of Merino’s absence through a back injury was confirmed.