TIM Krul is closing in on his Newcastle United comeback.
The goalkeeper is back in training after a five-week spell on the sidelines.
But Krul wasn’t ready for this afternoon’s game against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The 24-year-old is likely to be in Alan Pardew’s squad for Thursday night’s Europa League quarter-final against Benfica in Lisbon.
Krul – who made his club debut in European competition in late 2007 – suffered an ankle injury in Newcastle’s decisive 1-0 win over Metalist Kharkiv in the Ukraine last month.
And the Holland international’s been working overtime in a bid to return to Pardew’s squad.
“Tim’s trained all week, and trained well, but there’s been no game-related stuff,” Pardew told SportMail. “He’s not really in consideration for this weekend.”
In Krul’s absence, Rob Elliot has performed well in his first run in Pardew’s side since his move from Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2011.
Long-serving Steve Harper – who will leave United at the end of the season when his contract expires – has been on the bench.
The injury saw Krul miss Holland’s World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Romania.
However, his Newcastle team-mate Yohan Cabaye was able to link up with France’s squad after making a quick recovery from a groin problem.
Pardew travelled to Paris to watch Cabaye and his colleagues take on world and European champions Spain on Tuesday night.
Deschamps’s side were beaten 1-0 at the Stade de France. In the build-up to the game, Cabaye spoke of the “depression” and fatigue he suffered from at the start of the season in the wake of France’s Euro 2012 campaign.
Cavaye, 27, has recovered mentally and physically from his exertions last season for club and country.
“I was there in the week – he worked really hard in that game,” said Pardew.
“He’s absolutely fine. He’s an important player for us – he’s shown that since his return.
“We missed him at Wigan (a 2-1 defeat). That little bit of inventive play, that final pass. It’ll be nice to have him back on the teamsheet.
“With him feeling like that, it was difficult. We had to coax him through it and give him the rest he needed.
“In the end, we got him out of the other side. Hopefully, that never returns. He’ll have more experience to deal with that.”