DAVIDE Santon will miss the start of Newcastle United’s season – and is unlikely to play again until September.
The defender is recovering from a knee injury and is not due back in training until late next month.
Santon has been doing rehabilitation work on Tyneside this week while his team-mates have been put through their paces by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and Dave Billows, the club’s new head of fitness, on the first week of pre-season.
And the 23-year-old is not expected to travel to New Zealand with the rest of United’s squad late next week for the club’s Football United Tour 2014 pre-season fixtures against Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix.
“Davide will miss all pre-season,” Pardew said.
“He’ll probably start training at the end of August. He’s given us great versatility – he can play left-back, right-back and in midfield, where I used him one or two times last year.
“He’s an important player for us, and we’ll miss him.
“But the most important thing is getting him right.
“Otherwise, everybody’s fit and well, though we’re missing the World Cup players.”
Santon missed a lot of football in the second half of last season because of injury, and a hamstring problem sidelined him for the last few weeks of the campaign.
And the Italy international, having missed pre-season, will be left playing catch up with his fitness when he is able to return to training.
Pardew will now assess Massadio Haidara, Paul Dummett and fit-again Ryan Taylor ahead of the club’s season-opener against Manchester City at St James’s Park on August 16.
Dummett, 22, had a run in the side during Santon’s absence late last term.
However, 21-year-old Haidara started the club’s final game of the season, the defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.
Taylor, meanwhile, is back in training after recovering from a second cruciate ligament injury.
The versatile 29-year-old has been sidelined for almost two years.
Newcastle will err on the side of caution with Taylor given his long absence.
NEWCASTLE goalkeeper Rob Elliot will report back for pre-season training on Monday, having been given an extended break given his involvement in the Republic of Ireland’s summer internationals.