FABRICIO Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Tim Krul have made a successful return to training ahead of the Wear-Tyne derby.
And the influential Newcastle United trio are all pushing to start against Sunderland on Sunday.
Coloccini (hamstring), Taylor (calf) and Krul (elbow) have all been sidelined in recent weeks.
Their return to fitness is timely, and United manager Alan Pardew will assess their fitness tomorrow before he makes a final decision on his team selection.
Coloccini and Taylor are Pardew’s first-choice central defensive partnership.
And their return to fitness is timely for Pardew, who is without long-term injury victims Haris Vuckic and Ryan Taylor (both knee), as well as Dan Gosling (ankle).
Goalkeeper Steve Harper, meanwhile, has deptuised in the absence of Krul, who suffered his injury on international duty with Holland earlier this month.
Krul, should he show no reaction to his injury over the next 48 hours, will be between the posts at the Stadium of Light.
Cheik Tiote, Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse are also back in training after returning from the African Cup of Nations qualifier between Senegal and Ivory Coast which was marred by a riot.
Pardew was keen to speak to them to gauge their mood after the game, which was abandoned after Tiote’s Ivory Coast took a 6-2 aggregate lead.
Finally, Shane Ferguson – who missed Northern Ireland’s game against Portugal earlier this week with a hip problem – is back on the practice field and expected to be available.
Ferguson started Newcastle’s last game, the 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United.