Jack Colback is winning his battle to be fit for Newcastle United’s visit to Stamford Bridge.
The midfielder is back in training ahead of the relegation-threatened club’s game against Chelsea on Saturday evening.
And versatile Colback’s return from a hamstring problem will give head coach Steve McClaren a decision to make at left-back.
Winger Rolando Aarons has been used as a makeshift defender, with Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara sidelined with injuries.
Aarons played well in last weekend’s 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
United dominated the Albion game from start to finish, but McClaren may tempted to field Colback at left-back against a Chelsea side still unbeaten under Guus Hiddink, given that his team will be under more pressure.
Speaking ahead of the West Brom match, McClaren said: “Colback’s not worth the risk.
“But he should be back training and ready for next Saturday. He’s very close.”
Midfielder Colback was used at a left-back at former clubs Sunderland and Ipswich Town. “It’s not a position I’m unfamiliar with,” said the 26-year-old. “I’ve played there quite a bit with Ipswich, and Sunderland as well.”
Meanwhile, McClaren – who plans to take his team away to La Manga, Spain, next week for a training camp and a February 20 friendly against Norwegian club Lillestrom – hopes to have a clutch of players back for the March 2 game against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
Forward Siem de Jong is back in training after recovering from the eye injury he suffered in training last month.
De Jong has taken to hospital after getting accidentally poked in the eye during a session at the club’s Benton training ground.
United moved out the relegation zone after the West Brom result. McClaren’s side are 17th in the table and a point above third-bottom Norwich.