De Jong on course for comeback
Siem de Jong is on track to play a part in Newcastle's Barclays Premier League clash with Swansea after taking another step towards ending his eight-month injury nightmare.
The 26-year-old Holland international midfielder played 72 minutes for the club's Under-21s and set up striker Adam Armstrong for the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.
It was his second appearance for Peter Beardsley's side since recovering from surgery to repair a collapsed lung and while he admits he is still short of match fitness, he is in contention for a seat on the bench at St James' Park on Saturday if head coach John Carver requires him.
De Jong told nufcTV: "The plan always was to be part of that game, to be on the bench. I played 72, 73 minutes and hopefully I can be part of the team next week.
"We will see what happens. I don't think I could play 90 minutes yet, especially not on a level higher, so we will have to build it up and see how it goes."
De Jong, a £6million summer signing from Ajax, has made only three senior appearances and just a single league start for the club after first suffering a serious thigh injury and then being laid low by a recurrence of a lung problem.
His battle for fitness has proved both gruelling and frustrating, and he is already looking forward to the start of the new campaign and launching his Magpies career in earnest.
He said: "It's getting a little bit better. I still feel that it just improves every day, but I still need to keep on improving. I feel it in the power training, but also on the field and in the game.
"I just need to get a few more games in, and I think that will hopefully be a couple of games his season, otherwise start again good next season from pre-season on."
De Jong was signed to help provide a link between midfield and attack and the kind of invention he provides has been sadly lacking for much of the campaign, particularly in recent weeks as a run of six successive league defeats has left Newcastle too close for comfort to the relegation zone.
Victory - something they have not tasted since February 28 - over the Swans on Saturday would go a long way towards erasing any fears of being sucked into trouble, although with many fans in open rebellion over owner Mike Ashley's stewardship, it may do little to ease the tension on Tyneside.