Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has told reporters that Steven Taylor should be okay to feature against Sunderland while confirming that Chancel Mbemba is back in training, the Shields Gazette reports.
With the sheer magnitude of Newcastle’s game against Sunderland this weekend, in a perfect world Benitez would be hoping for a fully fit squad to choose from with competition for places key.
Instead, the Spaniard has to deal with as many as ten absentees for this weekend including Argentine defender Fabricio Coloccini who is still struggling from a calf injury.
That said, two players who are expected to be available are Mbemba and Taylor, with Benitez confirming the former has returned to training while the latter should shake off a knock in time.
"Chancel Mbemba has trained, Fabricio Coloccini has not. Steven Taylor will be okay. We know every game between now and the end of the season is important, but especially this one,” Benitez said.
"A derby is massive for the city and the fans. We have to try and win."
With Coloccini expected to miss the clash, Newcastle will perhaps line up with both Taylor and Mbemba at the heart of their defence with the latter’s last appearance coming in early February.
The situation certainly isn’t ideal for the Magpies, but it’s very much horses or courses at this stage of the season and in derby games in particular, heart and passion can count for more than technical ability.
Newcastle head in to the clash currently sitting in 19th position in the Premier League, one point behind both Norwich City and Sunderland as they seek all three points at St. James’ Park on Sunday.