STEVEN Taylor is close to returning to training at Newcastle United.
But next Tuesday’s game at Birmingham City could come too soon for the defender.
Taylor – who suffered a hamstring tear a month ago – is back running, but yet to rejoin full training.
The 25-year-old will return to the fold next week barring a setback, and manager Alan Pardew is looking forward to having the former England Under-21 captain back.
However, a more realistic comeback game for Taylor could be Newcastle’s next home game, the fixture against Bolton Wanderers on February 26.
“Steven’s jogging around and feeling better, and we feel he’s a few days away (from training), Pardew said. “It would be a boost to have him back.”
United are at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, and Pardew is targeting a decent points return from the two-game away sequence to further ease the club’s relegation concerns.
Newcastle are just five points above the relegation zone, though they have a game in hand – the Birmingham fixture – over third-from-bottom Wigan.
The match was postponed in December because of heavy snowfall.
Pardew went on: “We’ve just got to make sure we stay out of trouble, as we don’t want to put ourselves under too much pressure.
“Pressure can do funny things to your performances. It’s important over the next few games that we take some points.”