By Ian Willis
GRAEME Souness will have to reckon without midfield duo Emre and Charles N'Zogbia for Saturday's trip to West Ham - but both players hope to be available for selection in the Boxing Day duel with Liverpool.
The Turkish schemer has been on the sidelines since injuring his thigh in the Carling Cup defeat at Wigan, while French winger N'Zogbia fractured his hand in the same game on what turned out to be a miserable evening at the JJB Stadium.
Saturday's trip to Upton Park will come too soon for the duo, though both players have told nufc.co.uk that they are aiming for a return at Anfield.
Emre said: "Again, it has been frustrating to be injured.
"I just went over at Wigan, I slipped on the pitch, and damaged a tendon in my thigh. It is not the same injury as the on which kept me out earlier in the season, so that is a good thing for me.
"It is still a bit sore for me at the moment and I won't be ready for West Ham, but I hope to join in training next week and if everything goes well then hopefully I will be available for Liverpool."
N'Zogbia has set his target on the same game, though he is slightly further ahead of Emre on the comeback trail.
"I have been working on the exercise bikes and doing a lot of running, but I have stepped up my training now and hope to be OK for Liverpool.
"I was disappointed to get injured, I just fell over and landed awkwardly at Wigan, and an x-ray confirmed the fracture.
"I was enjoying things because I was playing regularly. Now I am injured, i know I have a fight to get back into the team because there is a lot of competition.
"The team are playing well now, we have done well in the last two matches so I expect it will be tough to get back in.
"I will be patient and wait for my chance, that's what you have to do when you have so many top players."