By Tom Easterby
Siem de Jong could be set for his Newcastle United competitive debut at Aston Villa on Saturday (12.45pm kick-off).
The former Ajax captain, who joined the Magpies in July, missed last weekend's defeat to champions Manchester City with a calf injury sustained on the Club's pre-season trip to New Zealand.
Manager Alan Pardew stated in Thursday's pre-match press conference, however, that his new vice-captain is back in training and will travel with the squad to the Midlands.
"Siem has trained all week and will be in the squad, so good news on that front," confirmed the boss.
"We had him in pre-season, but he missed last week. He's back this week, I think he's keen to start, we'll have to wait and see if he's ready but his enthusiasm is good and his CV and quality speaks for itself.
"Hopefully he can produce a great season for us."
The United supremo called on Dutch international de Jong to produce the type of form that would make him impossible to overlook after a new-look Newcastle impressed against City.
"Siem has to earn the right to play, and whether he's ready 100 per cent for this weekend I'm not sure - we'll decide that probably tomorrow (Friday) - but the guys who played on Sunday did a terrific job."
Pardew also indicated that midfielder Cheick Tiote was nearing a first-team return after he too missed the opening day of the season.
"Cheick is now able to run outside, so he is in a process of working towards training," he explained.