SIEM de Jong is pushing for a first-team comeback – after returning from a collapsed lung.
De Jong played 45 minutes for Newcastle United’s Under-21s in their 2-0 defeat to Derby County at St James’s Park last night.
The forward, handed the captain’s armband by coach Peter Beardsley, had surgery in February on his lung.
Luckless De Jong – who spent several months on the sidelines with a torn thigh muscle earlier in the season – was replaced at the break by striker Facundo Ferreyra, also making a comeback from injury.
De Jong will now be assessed by head coach John Carver and the club’s medical team ahead of Sunday’s Premier League home game against Tottenham Hotspur.
And the 26-year-old has an outside chance of making the bench, having come through the Under-21 game unscathed.
Football development manager Beardsley said: “He’s a top player.
“It’s a big bonus for John to have him back and hopefully available. I’ve always liked him, and you can tell he’s a proper footballer.
“He’s a top, top fella, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a good character.”
De Jong – who also suffered a collapsed lung while at former club Ajax – played three games early in the season before succumbing to injury.
The Holland international was signed to be the club’s No10 last summer.
And Carver – whose squad has been decimated by injuries and suspensions – is hopeful de Jong will can make a late impact for the club, which has lost its last five games.
“He’s a top player – creative and goalsoring – and we need one of those in the team,” said Carver. “Fingers crossed, he might be coming back at the right time.”
De Jong was substituted with the score goalless, but Alefe Santos and Farrend Rawson netted in the second half to extend the league winless run of United’s Under-21s to nine games.
The score could have been more emphatic had it not been for goalkeeper Paul Woolston.
playing in goal with Freddie Woodman unavailable because of a minor injury.
Woodman is expected to return for Monday night’s Under-21 game against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Ferreyra, sidelined for the past few months with a back problem, also came through the game unscathed.
The on-loan striker is yet to play a competitive first-team game for Newcastle nine months after joining from Shakhtar Donetsk.
And Ferreyra, 24, has a lot of work to do in a short space of time if he is to be considered for a first-team game.
Meanwhile, striker Adam Campbell, on a youth loan at Gateshead, also came off the bench, while forward Adam Armstrong played the full 90 minutes in front of 792 fans at St James’s Park.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Woolston, Sterry, Laidler (Campbell, 75), Kemen, Williams, Gillesphey, Gilliead, Smith, Armstrong, de Jong, Roberts (Barlaser, 75). Subs not used: Pearson, Ferreyra, Heardman.