MEHDI Abeid is battling to be fit to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The midfielder has been missed the club’s last two Premier League games with a thigh problem.
And Newcastle United’s injury and suspension-hit head coach John Carver is hopeful he will be available for the April 5 Wear-Tyne derby.
Abeid is set to return to training this week, and winger Rolando Aarons – who has been sidelined with hamstring and thigh problems since November – is also edging closer to a long-awaited comeback.
“Abeid could be back,” said Carver.
“He’s quite close, and the good thing is we have two weeks off and he will train with us on Monday.
“(Arsenal) was a bit too early for him. Rolando Aarons is pushing on, and he’s quite close to being added to the group, but other those two, nobody (is close to a return).”
Carver must also hope that none of Newcastle’s internationals, among them Moussa Sissoko and Tim Krul, are injured over the next fortnight.
“I hope not, no,” said Carver. “The good news is Cheik (Tiote) is not going to the Ivory Coast, so he can’t get injured, and Papiss (Cisse) is not going to Senegal, so he can’t get injured!”