FABRICIO Coloccini was set to return to training today ahead of Newcastle United’s visit to White Hart Lane.
Coloccini has missed the club’s last four games with a groin injury suffered on international duty with Argentina.
But the 31-year-old is close to a comeback, and could return against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Asked about Coloccini’s fitness, United manager Alan Pardew said he “looks OK” ahead of the televised clash.
In Coloccini’s absence, Mike Williamson has partnered Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in central defence.
Defender Steven Taylor is also close to a comeback from a hamstring injury, but the Spurs game could come too soon for him.
Meanwhile, United’s Premier League home game against Manchester City has been put back 24 hours to Sunday, January 12 for live broadcast by Sky Sports (2.05pm kick-off).
l FOOTBALLERS should be removed from play if they lose consciousness, say the world players’ union Fifpro and the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris was allowed to carry on after being knocked out in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Everton.
“If anyone suffers severe trauma to the head and loses consciousness, they should be required to leave the field,” said the PFA’s John Bramall.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said he believed Lloris looked capable of continuing and the French international later underwent a CT scan, showing no signs of concussion.
“This decision is unacceptable,” said Fifpro medical advisor Vincent Gouttebarge.
“Fifpro condemns that the health and safety of players are left to coaches, trainers or even to players themselves.
“Medical professionals should be aware of any relevant medical guidelines and apply them in order to empower the health and safety on the field.”
Play mediaSweeper-keeper Lloris - risky or brilliant?
Fifpro urged all clubs to follow guidelines laid out by sport medicine groups in Zurich last year, which called for the removal of a player from the field if they were showing a loss of consciousness.
Fifa’s chief medical officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak, also said Lloris should have been substituted, in accordance with the world governing body’s guidelines.
“The decision was not right,” added Dvorak.
“We have a very clear recommendation for doctors if concussion occurs or even if there is a strong suspicion of concussion then the player should be taken out of the play.
“This injury could have led to more severe complications.”
Bramall added: “It is important to take the pressure off the players, club medical staff, and the manager - removing the need for them to make a very difficult decision.
“The PFA will continue to work with the stakeholders within the game, to evaluate what guidelines are currently in place and to see if and how they need to be improved.”
In rugby union, Dr Barry O’Driscoll resigned from his role as medical advisor to the International Rugby Board in October following concerns about the treatment of concussion.