Obertan on brink of Newcastle United return

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GABRIEL Obertan is close to a return to fitness after missing the start of Newcastle’s season, and defender Mike Williamson should also be fit for next Saturday’s visit to Aston Villa.

Winger Obertan has been sidelined with a slight hamstring tear.

But the 24-year-old is expected to return to training next week to give manager Alan Pardew an extra option at Villa Park.

Williamson, meanwhile, also missed Newcastle’s first four games with a minor injury.

“I think Gabby will come back to us, and Willo will be fit,” Pardew said.

“As long as we don’t pick up any knocks in training, we should have a good squad going to Villa.

“We’re in a lot better health with the result (last week’s win over Fulham).”

Obertan was linked with a loan move to Championship club Nottingham Forest last month.

It is understood that the former Manchester United player was interested in a spell away from St James’s Park to get some games under his belt, but Obertan is set to stay on Tyneside.

With the Magpies having failed to add more than one senior player to the squad this summer, they can ill-afford to loan out any senior players.

Williamson and Steven Taylor, who has served a three-match suspension for his dismissal at Manchester City, will be in contention for places in central defence next week. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has helped the Magpies to clean sheets in the last two Premier League games in their absence.

Pardew is now hoping the Magpies’ international contingent – Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, Cheik Tiote, Paul Dummett, Adam Campbell, Shola and Sammy Ameobi – return unscathed next week ahead of the Villa match.

H Newcastle midfielder Romain Amalfitano has returned to his native France to join Dijon FCO on loan.

Amalfitano has made four first-team appearances for Newcastle, all in the Europa League, since joining the Magpies last summer from Reims. The 24-year-old’s last appearance came against Maritimo last November.