JONAS Gutierrez could make a first-team return for Newcastle United next month.
The winger, given the all-clear after treatment for testicular cancer last month, played his first game for the club in a year yesterday.
Gutierrez captained Peter Beardsley’s development side to a 4-1 Under-21 Premier League Cup win over West Ham United at Whitley Park.
And United manager Alan Pardew feels that the 31-year-old will soon be challenging for a place in his squad.
“It’s been a long, long road with the diagnosis he had, so we’re overjoyed,” said Pardew.
“We had lots of media wanting to have a piece of that game, but we’re trying to give him some space to get back to his best.
“He’s working his way towards that. I don’t think he’ll feature in this Christmas period, but certainly by the end of January and into February, I think he’ll be looking to push on.
“He is fit, it’s just getting used to the ball again, seeing a game scenario and getting back up to speed.
“Where he’s at, he’s actually physically fine. I don’t think it’ll take him too long – maybe even quicker than I’m suggesting.”