SIEM de Jong says he is going to be “sensible” about his return to action with Newcastle United.
The Dutchman is back in training, having been out since tearing a thigh muscle in August.
The injury has meant the former Ajax captain has played just three competitive games for Newcastle since his summer move, but he is now closing in on a return.
De Jong is expected to make a number of appearances for the club’s Under-21 side before being thrust back into senior action, and the 25-year-old says it’s important not to rush the final stage of his recovery.
He said: “I’m glad to be back on the pitch. Training with the group is a big difference for me, and it feels good.
“I still need to have a couple of more training sessions and some minutes with the Under-21s maybe in the coming weeks to get up to full strength.
“I think I need a little bit (of game-time for the Under-21s), especially if I want to play long parts of games. I need some conditioning work but also games, so it’s going to probably be a couple of games with the Under-21s, as well as training sessions, like 11 against 11 on the pitch.
“Of course I want to be back in the team as soon as possible, but I have to be a little bit sensible about it.”
Meanwhile, John Carver and his players are back home – with Alan Pardew’s former assistant expecting to find out imminently whether he will remain in charge until the summer.
Newcastle returned from their training camp in Dubai yesterday, and will now step up their preparations for next Saturday’s trip to Hull City.
Managing director Lee Charnley said earlier this week that he would have a “better indication” of where the club were at in their head coach search by the weekend.
And after a day in which two more names were seemingly ruled out, a permanent successor to Pardew is not expected to be appointed until the summer.
Tim Sherwood said yesterday he was not interested in the role, while reports suggesting German Bernd Schuster was in the frame were swiftly denied.
A flurry of bets led to the ex-Real Madrid boss becoming the second-favourite for the job, but he is not thought to be on the Tynesiders’ radar.