SIEM de Jong says he is going to be “sensible” about his return to action with Newcastle United.
The Dutchman is back in training, having been out since tearing a thigh muscle in August.
The injury has meant the former Ajax captain has played just three competitive games for Newcastle since his summer move, but he is now closing in on a return.
De Jong is expected to make a number of appearances for the club’s Under-21 side before being thrust back into senior action, and the 25-year-old says it’s important not to rush the final stage of his recovery.
He said: “I’m glad to be back on the pitch. Training with the group is a big difference for me, and it feels good.
“I still need to have a couple of more training sessions and some minutes with the Under-21s maybe in the coming weeks to get up to full strength.
“I think I need a little bit (of game-time for the Under-21s), especially if I want to play long parts of games. I need some conditioning work but also games, so it’s going to probably be a couple of games with the Under-21s, as well as training sessions, like 11 against 11 on the pitch.
“Of course I want to be back in the team as soon as possible, but I have to be a little bit sensible about it.”
De Jong has watched from the sidelines as his new team-mates have experienced an up-and-down campaign, while manager Alan Pardew has left the club during the forward’s lay-off.
The Dutchman is hoping United get back on track in the coming weeks as he seeks to make his return into a winning team.
He added: “I’m not sure when I’ll be able to join the team, but hopefully we will be in good form.
“It’s always easier to come into a team that is winning than a team that is not playing well, but for me it’s just about coming back as soon as possible.
“It has been difficult sometimes, because you’re not really in the group and you’re not always with the team.
“I’m glad I was at the training centre most of the time and seeing the guys, so you still feel a part of the team.
“It’s difficult when you just come here and you’re out for such a long time, so I’m glad to be back training.”