Papiss Cisse battling to rejoin Newcastle's fight against relegation
Papiss Cisse's battling to be fit for Newcastle United's crucial game at Stoke City.
The striker has been sidelined for the past two months with a groin problem.
But Cisse – who had minor surgery last month – is now cleared to make a timely return to training at the relegation-threatened club.
Head coach Steve McClaren does not expect Aleksandar Mitrovic – who has suffered medial ligament damage – to be fit for next Wednesday night’s game at the Britannia Stadium.
McClaren, however, didn’t take Cisse to La Manga, Spain, for last week’s training camp.
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The 30-year-old stayed behind on Tyneside to work intensively with the club’s physios.
And Cisse – who says he feels “sharp and focused” – must prove to McClaren that he is ready to return against Stoke.
McClaren has forward Ayoze Perez, an unused substitute for the past two games, on standby to start at the Britannia Stadium, while on-loan striker Seydou Doumbia is another option.
Doumbia is short of match fitness, having missed two months of football because of the winter break in Russia.
The 28-year-old, however, played 90 minutes against Lillestrom in La Manga last week.
McClaren arranged the friendly fixture to top up the fitness of a number of players during the club’s 18-day break between Premier League matches.
United, without a game this weekend, are 18th in the division with 12 games left to play.
Newcastle have struggled for goals all season, and Cisse feels he is ready to make a contribution up front.
Cisse, out since December 19, spoke of his determination to get back on the field “as quickly as possible” earlier this month.
The Senegal international said: “The past two months have been frustrating. Now I’m back to Newcastle to resume training. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
“I feel fit, sharp and very focused. I can’t wait to get back playing again as quickly as possible. I’m in good shape.”