Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has expressed doubts that Mehdi Abeid will be fit in time to play for the club before jetting off the to Africa Cup of Nations.
Abeid has been out since the start of December with a broken toe, but it seems that his return is not too imminent.
Indeed, with the Algerian midfielder due to set off for the African Cup of Nations with Algeria in January, Pardew believes that he will not be seen again on the pitch at St. James' Park until after the completion of the international tournament.
"He’s running,” Pardew said to the Shields Gazette. “They say his toe is finally healing. We had a period where it wasn’t healing at all.
“That timing is not ideal, either, because he’s probably going to go away.”
Abeid went into this season with his future on Tyneside unknown, but he has quickly proven his worth to the side.
With Cheick Tiote out injured, Abeid came into the side and did a remarkable job shielding the defence.
His power and technical ability was a major reason behind the Magpies up-turn in form and he will be hoping to get back to that level again once he returns to full-fitness.