NEWCASTLE United head coach John Carver will run the rule over Leicester City tonight – having watched Siem de Jong take another stride forward in the Midlands.
De Jong played 90 minutes for the club’s Under-21s against Derby County yesterday.
The forward – who came off the bench and scored in the weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to Swansea City – came through Newcastle’s 4-0 Under-21 Premier League defeat with no ill-effects.
And de Jong, whose first season at St James’s Park has been blighted by injury, was today being assessed ahead of Saturday’s game against Leicester.
Carver travelled to Derby to watch de Jong at the Championship club’s Oakwood training ground, and he will be at the King Power Stadium with first-team coach Steve Stone to watch Nigel Pearson’s side take on champions-elect Chelsea.
Newcastle have become embroiled in a relegation battle after seven successive Premier League defeats, and the return of forward de Jong – who had surgery on a collapsed lung in February – is timely.
“From a psychological point of view, it was very important that he got 90 minutes in,” said Carver.
“He didn’t have a great deal to do on the ball, and he got through the 90 minutes without any problems. He’s now got three or four days to recover.
“Hopefully, he’ll be involved against Leicester at the weekend.
“It’s his third game now. There’s been an improvement in every game. As you saw on Saturday, he’s a goalscorer, and we need goalscorers now.
“It’s great the fact that he’s got through 90 minutes, but what I won’t do is throw him in at the deep end.
“I’ll have a conversation with him. I’ll see how he feels in the next 48 hours, because that’s important. We’ll see where we are for the weekend.”
Derby ran out 4-0 winners at Oakwood thanks to goals from Kwame Thomas, Mason Bennett, Shaquille McDonald and Ivan Calero.
Adam Armstrong, Facundo Ferreyra and Olivier Kemen also played for Peter Beardsley’s Under-21 side, who have won just once this year.
“It’s important I see the players pushing to get into the first team,” said Carver. “Along with Siem, we had Facundo Ferreyra, Adam Armstrong and Olivier Kemen. It’s always nice to see them play away from home.”