Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor are not expected to make their respective returns from injury against Norwich this weekend, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has admitted.
French playmaker Cabaye has been absent since early November with a groin injury, while Taylor has not played since the defeat at Southampton six weeks ago.
Pardew had been hopeful that the pair could return for the vital game at Carrow Road on Saturday, but the Magpies' boss has confessed that the prospect of having either of them appears unlikely now.
"I think it might be [too soon], but we will push them as hard as we can," Pardew told the Evening Chronicle.
"We cannot bring them back, play them for one game and then they are out for five. It is better if they come back and stay fit."
James Perch is also a doubt, while Shola Ameobi is suspeded after being sent-off in the FA Cup defeat to Brighton. However there is some good news for the Premier League strugglers, with Mathieu Debuchy set to make his debut and Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse all expected to return.
Pardew added: "Debuchy comes into the team and we will look like we have a much stronger team than at the weekend.
"Shola is ineligible because of his red card, Perchie is doubtful with his knee, but hopefully, Jonas will be back and Colo and Papiss. They should train on Thursday with a bit of luck."