TIM Krul is set to give Newcastle United a lift – by declaring himself fit to face Chelsea.
The goalkeeper has been sidelined since late November with an ankle problem.
But Krul returned to training yesterday ahead of Saturday’s visit to Stamford Bridge.
And caretaker manager John Carver is hopeful that the 26-year-old will be available to face the Premier League leaders.
Captain Fabricio Coloccini, Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Jack Colback – who controversially missed last weekend’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Leicester City through injury along with the rested Ayoze Perez – are also likely to be available.
However, it is the return of Krul which is the most significant.
In the absence of Krul and second-choice Rob Elliot, sidelined with a thigh tear, 21-year-old Jak Alnwick has deputised in goal.
Alnwick – who made his debut in United’s home win over Chelsea last month – was arguably United’s best player in the third-round tie the King Power Stadium, but Krul has been a significant miss over the past six weeks.
Departed manager Alan Pardew revealed late last month that Krul was ahead of schedule in his comeback.
And Carver – who hopes to succeed Pardew at Newcastle – can only hope that the Holland internatonal now comes through the rest of the week along with Coloccini, Sissoko, Janmaat and Colback.
Meanwhile, United’s Cheik Tiote has left Tyneside to meet up with his Ivory Coast team-mates ahead of the African Cup of Nations.
Tiote was in the Elephants side beaten on penalties by Zambia in the 2012 final.
The midfielder said: “In the final in 2012, everyone was thinking we were going to win but we lost on penalties, and the last cup we lost in the quarter final against Nigeria.
“Now we have to do everything to try and win this competition because every year, the supporters are hoping we’re going to win it one day.
“We haven’t yet, but this year we’ll try everything to do that.”