Steve Bruce will welcome Miguel Almiron back in to the fold having reassured him of his worth to Newcastle despite his ongoing quest for a first goal for the club.
The Paraguay international, a £21million January signing from Atlanta United, is available for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace at St James’ Park having missed last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Burnley with a tight hamstring.
Almiron’s lack of goals has increasingly become a focus for his critics – he provided his first assist when he set up Jetro Willems’ equaliser against Manchester City last month – but head coach Bruce has been delighted with his contribution.
He said: “I understand that he hasn’t scored. After speaking to a lot of people about last year in January when he arrived, he gave the impetus to the team, and really nothing has changed in that respect, as far as I’m concerned.
“He’s a smashing player who we all enjoy playing in the team, and as long as he contributes to the team…
“Look, we’d love him to score a few more goals, of course we would, but he works every day as if it is his last, he’s a wonderful professional, a great lad, good player, so I’ve got no problems with Almiron because of what he gives the team and the threat he causes a team.
“If he can add a few goals to it, great, but at the moment, I’m very, very pleased with him.”
Almiron could be joined by Jonjo Shelvey in the squad after he too sat out at Turf Moor with a calf strain, and both were missed as the Magpies turned in a toothless display in an attritional contest.
However, they are unbeaten at home since the opening day of the season and Bruce is hoping a growing fortress mentality remains intact this weekend as he goes head to head with veteran manager Roy Hodgson.
He said: “I’ve got wonderful respect for him because he’s been there, done it and still has that enthusiasm and same drive, and if you’ve still got it at that age, then why not use all that wealth of experience?
“He has been fantastic all over the world, managed at different levels. For anybody looking at how you do the job, then Roy Hodgson is one who you always look at and say, ‘Wow!’.
“Year in and year out, he does fantastically well – it’s why he’s still going. Wonderful.”