Aleksandar Mitrovic is on standby to face Everton on Boxing Day.
The Newcastle United striker is set for a recall to Steve McClaren’s starting XI at St James’s Park.
But it is the head coach’s decision and he picks the right team to win each game. I respect that.
Papiss Cisse – who has started the club’s last three games ahead of Mitrovic – was today being assessed after suffering a muscle injury in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
Cisse pulled up with what looked to be a hamstring problem in the first half.
And the 30-year-old – who was replaced by Mitrovic – is doubtful for United’s hectic festive programme.
Mitrovic had been dropped after a poor performance in the home defeat to Premier League leaders Leicester City a month ago.
Head coach Steve McClaren felt a “bad time” on international duty with Serbia had affected the summer signing, who came off the bench and scored in the club’s win over Tottenham Hotspur eight days ago.
Asked about his axe, Mitrovic said: “Like every player, I want to play for 90 minutes every week, and I don’t like it when that doesn’t happen.
“But it is the head coach’s decision and he picks the right team to win each game. I respect that.”
Meanwhile, 17th-placed Newcastle ended the weekend two points clear of the relegation zone after third-from-bottom Swansea City were held to a goalless draw by West Ham United yesterday.
United had been hoping to claim a third successive victory against basement club Villa.
McClaren, however, is hopeful that United can pull away from trouble over the coming weeks.
“Everybody is beating everybody else,” said McClaren.
“You should show no disrespect to anyone else, no matter how many points they’ve got, because it is so tight and it’s not a given to win any game, as we have seen with some of the results and a lot of away wins.
“But we are growing, we are getting better (and) we continue the run. We would have taken seven (points) from nine, and we move on to Everton.”