Shearer waits on duo's fitness
Newcastle may be boosted by the return of Joey Barton and Jose Enrique for the Portsmouth clash.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 21/04/09 1:46pm
Newcastle manager Alan Shearer could be boosted by the return from injury of Joey Barton and Jose Enrique for the crunch clash with Portsmouth on Monday.
The meeting at St James' Park is a must-win for the Magpies as they look to close the four-point deficit between themselves and survival.
Barton has had a frustrating time with injuries this term, having been sidelined with a broken metatarsal picked up at former club Manchester City in January.
That incident came just two games after the 26-year-old had come back from an absence of two months out with knee ligament damage.
"Joey did a little bit of training on Monday," Shearer told the club's official website.
"We hope that he will be fully training by Thursday or Friday. And if everything goes well then we might have him available for Portsmouth."
Meanwhile, Enrique, who has missed the last two matches with a knee problem, is also pushing for a recall, with the defender expected back in training later this week.
"Hopefully Jose Enrique will be training Wednesday or Thursday," revealed Shearer.
"If everything goes well with him, we might have him available for Portsmouth."
The interim Magpies boss was also pleased with Alan Smith's contribution when coming on as a half-time substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham on Sunday.
The former Leeds youngster is another who has missed large chunks of the season through injury, restricting him to just four appearances this campaign, but Shearer is convinced the 28-year-old can play a big part in the run-in.
"I was very pleased with Alan when he came on," he added. "It was the first time he's played for a while and his energy levels were very good.
"He came on and did a job and I was happy with him. I've spoken to him and he is desperate to play his part.
"It's a case of number of games with Alan though, because he's not played a tremendous amount.
"But he will play a part and we'll have to wait and see whether that's from the start or coming from the bench."