NEWCASTLE’S Sylvain Marveaux is close to making his long-awaited comeback from injury, writes MILES STARFORTH.
Marveaux’s fellow winger Gabriel Obertan also has a chance of being involved at Wigan on Saturday.
With Leon Best’s return to the squad last weekend, when he was an unused substitute in the 3-0 win over Stoke, only long-term injured Peter Lovenkrands, Sammy Ameobi, Steven Taylor and Haris Vuckic remain in the treatment room.
Manager Alan Pardew – whose fourth-top side are chasing Champions League qualification – feels the return of Marveaux, Obertan and Best is timely, such is the importance of the last four games of the season.
Marveaux, pictured, has been out since November with hip and groin injuries, while Obertan has missed the past five weeks with a knock.
“We’re getting everyone back, and with another week’s training for Marveaux and Obertan, they’ll be in the frame,” Pardew said.
“We’re in a great position. We’ve got to try and play the best we can in the four games left.
“We had four or five come back. It was almost like a cup final was around the corner when everybody’s suddenly fit.
“It’s not just that you’re hanging injuries out when things aren’t going well. At times, you just want to contribute. You might feel it still, but you want to be back.”
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye – who scored two goals and set up another for Papiss Cisse against Stoke – suffered a knock in the game, but Pardew is hopeful he’ll be fit to face Wigan.
Goalkeeper Tim Krul had been a doubt on the eve of the game, having not trained all week because of a back problem.
Rob Elliot had been put on standby to play, with Steve Harper ready to be named among the substitutes.
However, Dutchman Krul proved his fitness and kept his Premier League ever-present tag – and a fifth clean sheet in six games – as Newcastle moved into the top four.
Asked how close Krul was to not playing, Pardew added: “Very close.
“He didn’t train all week. I wouldn’t have hesitated with Robbie, though. Harps was terrific in the dressing room in terms of whether he was going to be on the bench.
“He had a great attitude. He was important. You can’t underestimate that attitude.”