Steve Bruce must recall Federico Fernandez for the game away to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday after the Newcastle United defender returned to full first-team training.
That’s according to The Shields Gazette, who note that the Argentine took a full part in all sessions carried out on Wednesday as the Magpies prepare to visit their relegation-rivals.
Fernandez has not featured for a single minute since sustaining a calf injury in defeat to Sheffield United on January 12, in what was his sixth Premier League outing since recovering from coronavirus.
Fernandez’s potential return away to West Brom will come as a huge boost for Bruce, who has lost star forwards Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin until April due to injuries sustained in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The pair join top-scorer Callum Wilson in the treatment room, although Elliot Anderson is expected to be fit to travel to the Hawthorns after an ankle injury as one of a handful of potential options to replace Almiron.
Javier Manquillo is also back in light training as he looks to continue his recover from an ankle injury sustained against Southampton, while Emil Krafth is due to return to training and contend for a place against the Baggies after developing a shin issue last Saturday.
Fernandez had returned to training ahead of last month’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United but was deemed unfit to feature at Old Trafford or against Wolves, to see that the 32-year-old has missed Newcastle’s last 10 games across all competitions.
The £4m-rated titan, who is a free agent in the summer, has been one of Bruce’s more favoured options this season, with Fernandez starting all 16 available Premier League games and captaining the side on four occasions.
Bruce must recall Fernandez to the starting line-up at West Brom should the £47,000-per-week defender go through training unscathed ahead of Sunday’s relegation six-pointer, with the 32-cap international a key presence when on the field.
Fernandez has averaged the highest number of tackles per game by a United player who has been fielded at centre-back more than four times in the Premier League this season, with 1.5 successful challenges from 1.8 attempts, per WhoScored.
Ciaran Clark (1.1/1.4) and Jamaal Lascelles (0.9/1) have been Bruce’s most utilised options in recent weeks after losing Fabian Schar to knee ligament surgery, with both offering fewer average clearances that Fernandez (5.6) with 4.1 and 4.5, respectively.
Only West Brom’s Kyle Bartley (5.9) records a greater number of clearances per game than Fernandez, among all Premier League players who have featured at centre-half five or more times this term.
United will need Fernandez’s leadership and no-nonsense approach at the Hawthorns as they strive to secure a first win in four top-flight games, having conceded six goals in their past three and 10 since last they last kept a clean sheet.
AND in other news, an “absolutely awesome” titan has been tipped to quit Newcastle this summer…