By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Dan Gosling made a welcome return to the Newcastle United squad for Thursday night's Europa League tie against Metalist Kharkiv, and has now set his sights on forcing his way back into the starting XI.
The former England under-21 midfielder, who has made four appearances for United this season, had been sidelined since early October after suffering an ankle injury in a Barclays Under-21 Premier League win over Aston Villa.
But he's stepped up his comeback in recent days and was part of Alan Pardew's squad for the trip to the Ukraine. And, although he had to be content with watching the 1-0 win from the bench, he was just delighted to be involved after his long lay-off.
"It was a nice surprise when I saw the squad and my name was in it," he told nufc.co.uk. "I was glad to come and feel part of it again.
"It's always nice to be involved in European nights like this. It's a tough place to come and you can see why they turn a lot of teams over here.
"They're very good technically and Tim (Krul) made a few fantastic saves otherwise we would have been under the cosh in the last ten minutes. But we managed to stick it out and it was a great result.
"Hopefully soon I'll get some minutes on the pitch but it's nice to be back because it's been a long while."
The ex-Everton star's injury at Villa Park came just a few minutes before Haris Vuckic was also hurt, with the Slovenian ruled out for the season, so it proved to a rather costly second-string match for the Magpies.
"I volunteered myself to play, I needed games, and unfortunately that happened," Gosling recalled.
"But I've put that behind me now and I've been training for the last week or so. I feel good so hopefully I'll get some minutes as soon as possible.
"Everyone who plays the game knows that you need 90 minutes so I'll probably need a couple of games before I'm properly match fit but hopefully I can get them."
He will now hope to be involved when Newcastle return to domestic action against Southampton on Sunday in a crucial Barclays Premier League clash at St. James' Park.
Gosling said: "We've got a very good squad now. We bought well in January, the lads have settled in really well and it's been proven with the last few results, which have been really positive.
"Hopefully we can carry that on against Southampton on Sunday. We're level on points now and they've had a few good results so they'll be buzzing after last week (when they beat Manchester City 3-1).
"But we've had some good results as well so hopefully this will be another one and we'll move our way up the league.
"We'll train on Friday and Saturday and the squad will go up again - and hopefully I'll be involved in some shape or form and we'll go from there."
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