Rafa Benitez waiting on Siem de Jong as he looks to trim his Newcastle squad

Siem de Jong
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Siem de Jong’s Newcastle United future is in the balance as Rafa Benitez looks to trim his squad.

Benitez is looking to balance his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

The first thing is to see if he can be fit. I have no doubt about his quality. He’s a player that can help a lot in some games because of his quality and experience.

Henri Saivet, Cheick Tiote, Emmanuel Riviere, Haris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi are all candidates to leave this month, either on loan or permanently.

Injury-hit de Jong – who missed the club’s pre-season campaign with a hamstring injury – is a week away from a return to training.

United manager Benitez – whose side takes on Reading in the Championship at St James’s Park tomorrow night looking for its first points of the season – will make a decision on his future when he returns to fitness.

De Jong has had a wretched run of injuries since joining from Ajax two years ago.

The 27-year-old has been linked with a reunion with his brother Luuk, a former United loanee, at PSV Eindhoven.

Asked if de Jong had a future at Newcastle, Benitez said: “It depends.

“I was talking with him (on Friday). The first thing is to see if he can be fit. I have no doubt about his quality. He’s a player that can help a lot in some games because of his quality and experience.

“But at the same time, he’s like some other players ... we have a lot of players at the moment.

“I want to be sure we have enough, but not too many.”

De Jong – who made four Premier League starts in his first two seasons at St James’s Park – was sent home from Newcastle’s pre-season training camp in Ireland with a hamstring problem.

“I think he’s one week (away),” said Benitez. “He’s running. He’s OK, but he still has to start with the team.

“He’s running and doing some exercises with the ball, but it takes another week, maybe.”

Benitez, hopeful United can sign a striker, winger and defender before the transfer deadline, wants to focus on the core group of players that he feels can make a contribution in the Championship.

And the 56-year-old, mindful of the numbers at the training ground, wants to work with a manageable squad.

Tiote is likely to leave on a permanent deal, while Saivet, Riviere, Vuckic and Ameobi could all be loaned out.