Jack Colback is pushing hard to be fit for Newcastle United’s must-win game against Norwich City – but he will walk a disciplinary tightrope if he returns to action.
The midfielder missed last weekend’s 6-1 defeat to Manchester City with a hamstring problem.
And Steve McClaren is hopeful that Colback will be available for the home match against Norwich on October 18.
Struggling Newcastle, without a win in eight games, are bottom of the Premier League table.
United head coach McClaren fielded Yoan Gouffran as a defensive midfielder in the 6-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium with Cheick Tiote having been short of fitness after his recent lay-off.
Colback – who suffered the injury in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea last month – must stay out of the referee’s notebook if he does play against Norwich.
The 25-year-old is a booking away from a one-game ban, having been shown four yellow cards already this season.
And he would miss the Wear-Tyne derby against former club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light with a booking against Norwich.
Meanwhile, McClaren felt Tiote, back from a knee problem, wasn’t fit enough to start against City in Colback’s absence.
But Tiote – who was not called up by the Ivory Coast – will have the benefit of a fortnight’s training by the time the Premier League resumes after the international break.
McClaren will be without defender Kevin Mbabu for game against Norwich.
Mbabu, used as a makeshift left-back by McClaren with Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara unavailable through injury, limped out of the City game with a hamstring problem.
But defender Daryl Janmaat, forced to withdraw from the Holland squad with a knee problem, will be fit.
And Dummett, yet to make an appearance this season, is back in training and could go straight into the starting XI against Norwich.
The 24-year-old missed the club’s entire pre-season with his injury, which dates back to May.
But Dummett has come through a rigorous rehabilitation and fitness programme at the club’s Benton training ground, while Haidara could also be available.
Haidara has sat out the last three games because of a knee problem.
Meanwhile, United have sold their allocation for the Wear-Tyne derby on October 25.