VURNON Anita could be back for Newcastle United’s home game against Everton.
The midfielder suffered an ankle injury late in the club’s Boxing Day defeat to Manchester United under a crude challenge from Antonio Valencia.
And it had been feared that Anita would be sidelined for several weeks.
But Newcastle manager Alan Pardew – whose side were beaten 7-3 by Arsenal on Saturday – is confident Anita will be available to face David Moyes’s side.
Pardew will also have defender Mike Williamson back from suspension, allowing James Perch to return to midfield.
“We need a boost – maybe somebody coming back to give us a lift,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“I’d like to think that Cheik will be available for Everton, and Anita will be and Perch will be back in midfield.
“And we have (Sylvain) Marveaux and (Gabriel) Obertan.
“Suddenly, you start thinking the team looks strong already.”
The scores were level at 3-3 at the Emirates Stadium until late in the game, when a series of defensive lapses saw Arsenal score four unanswered goals.
And Pardew – who named teenage defender Remie Streete on the bench – was unable to shore up his team.
“We just didn’t have enough defensive players in the end,” he said.
“Bigi (Gael Bigirimana) was tiring, Cheik was tired and I question whether we could have shored it up a little bit.
“But we didn’t really have the players to do that.
“That has been a real issue for us at Man United and Arsenal.”
Meanwhile, Pardew wouldn’t be drawn on Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s “wee club in the North East jibe” in his post-match Press conference.
Ferguson hit out after Pardew was critical of his tirade at referee Mike Dean, his assistant and the fourth official during the half-time break.