JAMES Perch is battling to give Newcastle United a welcome injury boost ahead Saturday’s Premier League visit to Norwich City.
The utility player (pictured) suffered a knee injury in last week’s FA Cup defeat to Brighton.
And manager Alan Pardew initially feared the former Nottingham Forest man would miss out at Carrow Road.
However, Perch has a chance of making Pardew’s squad, as do captain Fabricio Coloccini, Papiss Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez, who were all due back in training today.
Pardew, hamstrung by a succession of injuries in recent months, is desperate to have them back to help the club’s battle against relegation.
“The good news is that James Perch could be available for Saturday – it’s not a longer-term injury,” Pardew said.
“Hopefully we’ll have Jonas, Fabricio and Papiss back in training.
“We’ll have stronger players back for Norwich. We need better players on the pitch. We need the best possible team we can get.
“The real issue is that we need our best players on the pitch.
“That’s what we’re working on.”
The odds are against midfielder Yohan Cabaye and defender Steven Taylor returning from their respective groin and hamstring injuries, with Pardew reluctant to take any risks with the pair, such will be their importance between now and the end of the season.
But right-back Mathieu Debuchy, signed from Lille last week, is pencilled in to make his debut after several days’ training with his new team-mates.
“Yohan trained on Tuesday, but I’m not sure if he’ll be involved,” added Pardew.
“There’s a determination to get our best players out there. But we can’t rush them and bring them back before they’re ready.
“We could be looking at Reading in terms of Steven Taylor.
“Mathieu Debuchy’s also been training, so things are looking a little bit healthier.”
Chris Hughton’s Norwich were unlucky to lose 1-0 at St James’s Park in September, but, while wary of the fixture, Pardew believes under-pressure Newcastle can record their first away victory of the season at Carrow Road and pull away from the bottom three ahead of a huge home game against Reading on January 19.
“Norwich are a hard-working side,” he said. “They also carry a real goal threat, especially Grant Holt.
“It’s a difficult proposition to win there, but there’s no doubt we can, and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”