ALAN Pardew’s sweating on the fitness of a clutch of Newcastle United players ahead ot the Wear-Tyne derby.
Captain Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Tim Krul are pencilled in to return to training next week ahead of his team’s clash against Sunderland on October 21.
But Pardew faces an anxious few days as a number of other key players compete on the international stage.
Pardew lost Coloccini and Krul to injury in the last international break, and he’s hoping the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Papiss Demba Cisse and Cheik Tiote all return to Tyneside fit and ready for one of the biggest games of Newcastle’s season.
“We’ve been unlucky on international breaks,” said Pardew.
“We lost Colo, we lost Tim, so fingers crossed we come through with a clean bill of health this time.”
One concern is Cabaye, who has complained of an abdominal injury with France, and won’t start against Japan in Paris tonight, but Pardew’s confident the problem isn’t serious.
Ba, Cisse and Tiote – all nominated for the 2012 African Footballer of the Year award – are also away for a decisive African Cup of Nations qualifier between Senegal and Ivory Coast in Dakar tomorrow.
With a place in the finals early next year in South Africa at stake, it is certain to be a bruising game.
“Yohan Cabaye’s with France, but I think he’ll be fine,” he said.
“Everybody else we are hoping on Wednesday will train – but we’ll see.
“Hopefully, Cabaye comes through. If that happens, we’ll be OK. He’s probably the most important player on international duty.”
Pardew’s also confident Shane Ferguson, withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad with a hip injury, will be fit to be involved at a sold-out Stadium of Light.
Ferguson – who started against Manchester United on Sunday – had been due to face Portugal in Porto, but ended up staying behind on Tyneside for treatment.
“Shane Ferguson stayed behind,” added Pardew. “Hopefully, after a week’s treatment he’ll be OK.”
The return of Coloccini (hamstring), Taylor (calf) and Krul (elbow) would significantly strengthen Pardew’s options ahead of the much-aniticpated derby.
“After the weekend, we’ll have a much bigger hand to choose from,” said Pardew, whose side won 1-0 on Wearside last season thanks to a stunning free-kick from Ryan Taylor.