Daryl Murphy is closing in on a return at Newcastle United – but he won’t be fit to face Ipswich Town.
Murphy has only made one appearance for the club since joining in a £3million deal in the summer.
The idea for us was to have someone of his experience to give us some advice. At the moment he is unavailable. He is improving, but it is not something we can take risks with now.Rafa Benitez
The 33-year-old – who signed a two-year deal on Tyneside – has been sidelined with a calf problem in recent weeks.
Murphy, behind 11-goal Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic in the pecking order at St James’s Park, is back in training.
But United manager Rafa Benitez won’t “risk” him in the Championship fixture.
“When he first signed, we were playing Gayle and he was scoring goals.
“We had Mitrovic, and Murphy played in the (EFL) Cup. After some time, Murphy felt tightness in his calf, and now we do not want to take any risks with him. “He is training now, but he is not playing because Gayle is still scoring goals and we have Mitro waiting. He is not in the squad.”
Murphy – who spent five years at Sunderland earlier in his career – was recruited for his aerial ability and Championship experience.
“The idea for us was to have someone of his experience to give us some advice,” said Benitez.
“At the moment he is unavailable. He is improving, but it is not something we can take risks with now.
“He is not someone we had watched for a long time, but when we were looking for strikers with experience in this competition.
“We had to pick one from two or three, and he was one of the options and he wanted to come here.
“And we liked him. We knew he was not to be a starter, but we thought he could do well because he is clever, has good movement for a target man and is quite mobile.
“We saw that in the cup. He was perfect for what we were expecting in the Championship.
“He is fine, a little disappointed to have a little injury, but in terms of attitude, I think he has been fine.
“We were really pleased with how he played in the cup, and we are disappointed he cannot play at the moment.”
Asked if Ipswich were missing Murphy, Benitez said: “It is not for me to say.
“I think that is for their manager to say, but he is a good player for any team.”