Fabricio Coloccini’s battling to rejoin Newcastle United’s fight against relegation at the St Mary’s Stadium.
The club’s captain, sidelined since February with a calf injury, is set to return to training this week.
He (Coloccini) will be training and we’ll see how he feels and then we’ll decide.Rafa Benitez
But United manager Rafa Benitez isn’t certain he’ll be fit enough to start Saturday’s game against Southampton.
Newcastle were again found wanting defensively in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Norwich City – Martin Olsson scored an injury-time winner at Carrow Road – and Benitez is keen to see Coloccini back on the field.
However, Benitez will not take a risk with a player he feels is not fully fit.
“To have more players is always important, because then you have more competition between them,” said Benitez.
“But they have to be fit. They have to be in the best condition possible for the fight that we have at the moment.
“So he will be training and we’ll see how he feels and then we’ll decide, but the good thing is that if they are coming back then at least we have that competition and that can only be good for the team.”
Benitez will again be without suspended midfielder Jack Colback for the Southampton game.
But defender Kevin Mbabu, sidelined since January, is close to a comeback from injury.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-21s take on Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium tonight (7pm kick-off).
Peter Beardsley’s side also play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday (7pm kick-off) in another Under-21 Premier League fixture.