Newcastle's squad, already wafer-thin, could be reduced even further in January if Ki Sung-yueng decides to play for South Korea in the Asian Cup.
Ki earned his 106th international cap in last week's win over Costa Rica, but he has suggested that he will
"My mind hasn’t changed, and I expressed my thoughts to the new head coach," said Ki, quoted by the Northern Echo. "Playing with a foreign club, I do feel pressure travelling to my home country.
"It’s not about my physical condition. I had doubts whether I can devote myself 100 per cent to the national team, and I’ve had serious discussions about this with seniors around me.
"But Bento first told me to stay with the national team. If the team needs me, then I think it’s right for me to play with my team-mates through to the Asian Cup."
The tournament will be held in the United Arab Emirates between January 5 and February 1 next year, meaning that Ki could miss more than a month of Premier League action depending on how South Korea fare.
Rafa Benitez would have known this when he signed Ki on a free from Swansea during the summer, but it would be a difficult blow to take nonetheless. Newcastle could also lose Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto if he is selected to play.
South Korea lost to Australia in the final of the last Asian Cup, but they have not won the tournament since 1960.