DEFENSIVE duo Davide Santon and Mathieu Debuchy are battling to be fit for Newcastle United’s visit to the Ethiad Stadium.
The pair are struggling with thigh and hamstring injuries ahead of the club’s game against Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday.
And the fixture at Eastlands could come too soon for the full-backs.
United manager Alan Pardew will err on the side of caution if he feels it would be a risk to play them.
Santon was forced to withdraw from the Italy Under-21 squad after pulling up in training clutching his thigh, while Debuchy felt a tightness in his hamstring in Newcastle’s defeat to Wigan Athletic.
Debuchy met up with France’s squad for assessment by his country’s medical staff ahead of the double header against Georgia and Spain before returning to Tyneside for treatment.
With a two-legged Europa League quarter-final against Benfica - and a home games against derby rivals Sunderland and Fulham - coming up next month, Pardew is understandably reluctant to take any risks.
And Santon and Debuchy could be kept back for next week’s games, leaving Pardew with a defensive headache.
Pardew is also without Massadio Haidara, who is sidelined with the knee and thigh injuries he suffered under a reckless challenge from Wigan’s Callum McManaman.
Haidara, fortunately, did not suffer any ligament damage, but the left-back won’t be fit until next month.
Ryan Taylor - who suffered a cruciate ligament injury in August - is making good progress in his rehabilitation, but the utility player is three weeks away from returning to full training.
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