Boost for Benitez: Mikel Merino's fine form continues, as he scores on international duty

Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James Park on October 1, 2017 in...

Mikel Merino scored for Spain Under-21's against Slovakia on Tuesday night.

Newcastle player Mikel Merino (l) is challenged by Phillipe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James Park on October 1,...Newcastle's Mikel Merino (L) is challenged by Phillipe Coutinho of Liverpool

Newcastle United's summer signing Mikel Merino has enjoyed a strong start to life at St. James' Park – and he continued his fine season so far whilst on international duty.

The midfield maestro, 21, joined Newcastle on a season-long loan deal from Borussia Dortmund back in July, and he has quickly established himself as a fan favourite amongst Newcastle fans.

Merino's performances in the heart of the Newcastle midfield have made him popular very quickly on Tyneside, showing composure on the ball and a fine passing range, whilst also protecting his back four.

Serbia's forward Uros Djurdjevic and Spain's midfielder Mikel Merino (R) vie for the ball during the UEFA U-21 European Championship Group B football match Serbia v Spain in Bydgoszcz,...

Fans already want Rafael Benitez to tie up a permanent deal for Merino, and the youngster offered another glimpse of his quality whilst playing for the Spain Under-21's on Tuesday night.

Spain travelled to Poprad on Tuesday night to take on Slovakia in a qualifying match for the 2019 European Championships, and it was Merino who scored a rare goal to open the scoring for Albert Celades' men.

Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James Park on October 1, 2017 in...

Mikel Oyarzabal and Rodri Hernandez scored to put Spain 3-0 up, and whilst Denis Vavro did pull a goal back, Dani Ceballos found the net to seal a 4-1 victory for La Rojita, with Merino's form a continued bonus for Benitez.

Merino has scored just 12 goals in his career, spanning spells with Osasuna, Dortmund, Newcastle, Spain Under-19's and now Spain Under-21's, with the youngster more accustomed to playing a deeper role.

However, Benitez will now be hoping that his goalscoring display on international duty will spark some goalscoring threat from Merino in the Premier League, where Newcastle are still trying to find their attacking groove.

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