FABRICIO Coloccini is set to return to training with Newcastle United – but the Magpies captain will not be fit to face Liverpool.
The defender has been sidelined since February through injury.
And under-pressure manager Alan Pardew is keen to see the influential player – who broke two bones in his back making an acrobatic clearance against Southampton – rejoin the club’s relegation battle.
But Coloccini (left) won’t be ready for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Liverpool.
Instead, the 31-year-old is pencilled in to make his comeback against Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United at Upton Park on April 4.
“Colo will train on Thursday or Friday,” Pardew said. “To have him around will be a boost.”
Midfielder Cheik Tiote - who missed the weekend’s 1-1 draw with West Brom – has a chance of facing Brendan Rodgers’ side at St James’s Park.
Tiote is set to return to training after suffering a minor hamstring problem.
“I think Cheik’s got a really good chance,” said Pardew, who also has left-back Davide Santon sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Midfielder Sylvain Marveaux – who has a groin problem and also sat out the West Brom game – is being assessed by the club’s medical staff.
Meanwhile, Pardew believes that Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has recharged his batteries and ready to play a part to the end of the season.
Pardew labelled the defender’s performance in the draw at West Brom as “outstanding”.
Yanga-Mbiwa, still adjusting to the demands of English football, had struggled against Sunderland’s Danny Graham six days earlier. Pardew felt fatigue was a factor in his below-par performance in the Tyne-Wear derby, which Newcastle lost 3-0.
“It was a difficult pitch, and I thought Mapou was absolutely outstanding,” Pardew said. “He had a couple of misplaced passes. I thought one of them was definitely the pitch. He was probably the outstanding player.
“Against Sunderland, he was absolutely tired. The difference between (Yohan) Cabaye and Mapou between Sunday and (West Brom) was a million miles.
“They looked different players – that’s what energy levels can do for you.”
Yanga-Mbiwa and Steven Taylor, his defensive partner, won’t face Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who was yesterday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
A regulatory commission will meet tomorrow to decide the length of ban Suarez must serve.
And the absence of Suarez – who scored a well-taken equaliser for Liverpool in the 1-1 draw between the two sides in November – will come as a relief for Pardew.