Siem de Jong is set to return from injury in the coming months.
A highly sought after attacking midfielder, the 25-year-old - who can also play as a striker - was arriving on the back of a record-breaking four season spell with the Dutch champions, as they claimed four consecutive league titles - two of which were with de Jong as captain.
He was named Magpies’ vice captain by manager Alan Pardew soon after his arrival, and he impressed in pre-season before suffering a serious of niggling injuries that limited his fitness heading into the start of the Premier League campaign. Despite this, the six-capped Netherlands international made his debut for the club during their second Premier League fixture of the season, playing 20 minutes of a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa.
He followed that up with a starting role in the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace the following week, putting in a solid, if uninspiring 79 minute performance. Shortly after this, de Jong injured his thigh in training, an injury which was due to rule him out until the turn of the year.
However, the player revealed that he is back in full training, giving a likely return date in time for the hectic run of fixtures that Premier League clubs must entertain over the festive period.
This plays perfectly into Pardew’s hands, as it allows him to utilise the Dutchman as cover for his starting XI as games wear on, keeping his first-team fresh for the string of tough games over Christmas. Rather than rushing de Jong back into the starting XI, he will be slowly brought back to full match fitness by putting in a serious of substitute appearances, ready for the start of the African Cup of Nations in January - when he will claim his place in Pardew’s first-team plans.
Mehdi Abeid and Cheick Tiote are both due to miss the entirety of January due to the AFCON, leaving the Magpies extremely thin on the ground in the midfield positions. Current deputy captain Moussa Sissoko has been excelling as a number 10 during Newcastle’s run of six consecutive Premier League victories, but it is likely that he will drop deeper into central midfield to cover for his Africa-bound teammates. Having already performed well in the deeper position, Pardew can hold faith that Sissoko will continue with his impressive form, and the decision allows de Jong - now fully fit due to his run of substitute appearances - to claim the number 10 role as his own - a role he excelled in whilst with Ajax.
There are fears that de Jong will follow in the footsteps of his brother, Luuk, who failed to score a goal in 12 games with the Toon last season, and will end up leaving the club without making much impression. However, the younger of the pair entered St James’ Park with the club in turmoil and failed to live up to the exceptions surrounding him following a number of good years in his homeland; he is currently enjoying a good season back in the Eredivisie, with four goals in 10 games for PSV.
With the Magpies currently flying high, it allows de Jong the perfect circumstances to enter the first-team set-up, and he will surely cement himself as one of Alan Pardew’s key men in the search for European qualification.