Newcastle United’s Rob Elliot is set to make his long-awaited comeback after almost nine months on the sidelines.
The goalkeeper is pencilled into play in Monday night’s Premier League 2 Division 2 fixture against Aston Villa at St James’s Park.
Elliot ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament on Republic of Ireland duty in March.
And the 30-year-old – who signed a new long-term contract in August – is ready to return after a painstaking rehabilitation.
Magpie manager Rafa Benitez said: “Elliot will be available for the reserve team game on the 12th.”
Meanwhile, ex-Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback and defender Grant Hanley are close to comebacks from their respective eye and shin injuries.
“Colback has to have another examination,” said Benitez.
“He’s training, but in terms of confidence it’s the last step. Hanley’s running now, and I think he will be training with the team next week.”