Rafa Benitez has been handed an injury boost ahead of Newcastle United’s Championship run-in.
The league leaders take on Wigan Athletic at St James’s Park this afternoon.
Clark is still injured, but the others are starting to come back.Rafa Benitez
And Benitez – whose side lead the division by one point – has welcomed a key player back into the fold for the visit of Graham Barrow’s relegation-threatened side.
Midfielder Isaac Hayden is in the squad, having recovered from ankle surgery.
And defender Grant Hanley and striker Daryl Murphy are also available after recovering from the injuries which saw them sit out international games during the two-week break from domestic fixtures.
United, however, will again be without defensive pair Ciaran Clark (knee) and DeAndre Yedlin (thigh).
The return of Hayden is significant, and Benitez – who has handed Jack Colback a run of games in midfield alongside Jonjo Shelvey in his absence – must now decide whether the former Arsenal man is fit enough to start.
“Clark is still injured, but the others are starting to come back,” said Benitez.
“Hanley and Murphy had little problems. They have been working with the physios and fitness coaches, though, and they have been training.
“We have to decide if they can play or not, but both have been training.
“Hayden has been training all week, so that’s it.
“Other players are fine, just little things. Yedlin is the one – he is improving and progressing but not available.”
Hanley was forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad with the ankle injury he suffered in Newcastle’s goalless draw against Birmingham a fortnight ago, while Murphy was not able to play for the Republic of Ireland because of a calf problem.
Clark, meanwhile, suffered a knee injury in last month’s home defeat to Fulham.
“It’s not very bad,” said Benitez. “But still he has a little bit of discomfort, and he has to carry on progressing.
“With the medial ligament, you can have problems when you turn and when you kick the ball with your toes.
“We just need to be sure that he can turn properly, so it’s just a question of time
“ Maybe days, or one week or something like this.
“I will not give a time, but he is improving well, and it’s just about him having 100% confidence.”