Massadio Haidara’s edging closer to a first-team comeback at Newcastle United – almost a year after he last kicked a ball for the club.
The defender played almost 70 minutes of an Under-23 game against Sheffield United on Thursday.
I think he is still one or two weeks away from being 100% fine. He just has to keep on training.Rafa Benitez
And Haidara – who has had knee surgery late last year – could be available for a competitive return within weeks.
United manager Rafa Benitez and his staff watched the Central League Cup fixture at the club’s Academy.
Benitez said: “The plan was to give him 70 minutes and he did that.
“I think he did well, but it is a question of time.
“If he has no problems, then next time we will give him 90 minutes.
“I think he is still one or two weeks away from being 100% fine.
“He just has to keep on training.
“He is doing well with us, but that is not the same as match fitness and the unexpected things you can find in a game like when you have to turn quickly.
“In a training session, you can manage to be more careful. He still needs more time.”
Haidara’s last first-team appearance for Newcastle came in the 6-2 home win over Norwich City on October 18 last year.
The 23-year-old, signed in January 2013 from Nancy, has made 49 appearances for United.
Meanwhile, Benitez reported no fresh injury problems ahead of this evening’s game against Aston Villa at his pre-match Press conference.
“It’s more or less the same problems we had before,” said Benitez.