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No Injury Respite for Newcastle United Over Holiday Period


Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will have little respite on the injury front as he attempts to bounce back from the disappointment of derby defeat at Manchester United on Boxing Day.

The 53-year-old saw his side lose out to arch-rivals Sunderland for the fourth time on the trot, something they had never done before, at St James' Park on Sunday as a bad week came to the worst possible conclusion.

Pardew went into the derby with a host of key players unavailable to him, with both his senior keepers, Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, as well as full-back Davide Santon, midfielders Siem de Jong, Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Taylor and Rolando Aarons injured and striker Papiss Cisse struggling for match fitness after knee surgery and a virus.

There is now light at the end of the tunnel with several of those men closing in on returns, but none of them are likely to make the busy holiday program, which gets under way at Old Trafford on Friday.

Asked if he feared the season could peter out as it did last year, Pardew said: "We have got good players and good young players, and some big senior players to return.

"We are waiting for Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, we have Siem de Jong, who hasn't played a game for us, Rolando Aarons to return, so we have still got some big, big players to come back into this group, so that's not a concern.

"Davide Santon is getting closer, another player who is very important and technically improves us because he keeps the ball, Davide, and that's something that in the second half of the season we have two areas to improve on, retention of the ball and goalscoring."

Another man who could yet have a role to play is midfielder Jonas Gutierrez, who made a welcome return to competition action for the club's Under-21s side on Monday afternoon after winning his battle with testicular cancer.

The Argentina international, a hugely popular figure both within the camp and among the Toon Army, still has a way to go, but Pardew was delighted to see him back in a black and white shirt.

He said: "It's been a long, long road with the diagnosis he had, so we're overjoyed. We had lots of media wanting to have a piece of that game, but we're trying to give him some space to get back to his best. He's working his way towards that.

"I don't think he'll feature in this Christmas period, but certainly by the end of January and into February, I think he'll be looking to push on.

"He is fit, it's just getting used to the ball again, seeing a game scenario and getting back up to speed. Where he's at, he's actually physically fine. I don't think it'll take him too long – maybe even quicker than I'm suggesting."

Gutierrez's return came barely 24 hours after the derby setback which left a pall over St James', although Pardew will not allow his players to dwell on it.

He said: "We have to move on, it's as simple as that. We can't dwell on it. It was a performance that was pretty good, but it wasn't enough.

"I have just kept them away from the training ground. They have come in today and we will have a warm-down today, so I haven't really seen them, to be honest."

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