Rolando Aarons is on the verge of being unleashed on the Championship, according to Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.
But the United gaffer says the wideman will have to work hard to get his chance in the second tier leaders’ first-team.
Aarons has not kicked a ball since August’s League Cup victory over Cheltenham.
But the youngster is nearing a return, having been pictured in full training in the last week.
And Benitez is delighted to have Aarons in and around the senior squad again.
Although he stopped short of offering the 20-year-old any assurances, especially with Christian Atsu and Yoan Gouffran in such good form and Matt Ritchie back from suspension for next Sunday’s trip to Leeds United.
Benitez said: “He’s getting closer.
“He’s running and doing the tests.
“He was fine. He had surgery. He was wearing trainers and now he’s fine with the boots.
On his chances of making the trip to Elland Road next weekend, the Spaniard continued: “He’s quite close now.
“He has to be fit for a while and then we will give him some time and some minutes.
“The main thing is to be sure he has no problems and can compete with the rest of the team.
“Now it’s good in one way because we have very good players, but it’s bad for him because he has to work harder.”