BOSS Alan Pardew is desperate to have “missing link” Siem de Jong back sooner rather than later – but the Dutch forward will not be back until January at the earliest.
It was reported early last month that Newcastle United’s summer signing was facing four months on the sidelines.
De Jong – who suffered a thigh tear in training – revealed this week that he is still on crutches.
And Magpie manager Pardew admits the Tynesiders cannot afford to take any risks with de Jong, who had a long spell out last season at Ajax with a collapsed lung.
The 25-year-old is pencilled in to return in January, but that timescale could prove optimistic given the severity of the injury.
“I think I said some time ago that January, probably, is the earliest for Siem,” said Pardew.
“So the Christmas programme looks out, which is a shame because obviously there are a lot of games in that period.
“We have got fingers crossed that he comes back in January ready to go, because the injury he’s got is such that we have to be very careful with his rehab and make sure that we don’t put him at risk.”
Asked to elaborate on the injury, Pardew said: “His thigh muscle had a tear at the top where it joins the bone, and that’s a dangerous area.”
De Jong was signed, along with Remy Cabella, to fill the creative void left by the January sale of Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain.
And the Holland international showed glimpses of his talent before succumbing to injury.
“We are missing him because he was obviously a massive signing for us,” said Pardew.
“He was captain of Ajax, a fantastic pedigree.
“He’s yet to do it in the Premier League, of course, but we had good confidence that he could.
“He’s the link that I think we have missed, well since Cabaye went, really, so it was a blow.
“But we have to ride those blows out and we have to be good enough to cope with it, and that’s really where we are now.