Stephen Ireland poised to make debut for Newcastle against Everton

Alan Pardew says Hatem Ben Arfa may not return till May
Stephen Ireland is set to make his Newcastle debut against Everton on Saturday, replacing injured midfielder Joey Barton.

Ireland, who joined Newcastle from Aston Villa, has been out since December because of a knee injury, and has yet to start a game for Alan Pardew's side.

The 24 year old looks as if he will make his debut against Everton after recovering well and having an impressive week of training.

He is likely to replace Joey Barton who picked up a thigh injury in training last week, and further aggregated it in the warm up before Newcastle’s game at Bolton, which ended 1-1.

Striker Shola Ameobi could also make a return from injury on Satuday, but will wear a mask to protect his cheekbone, while Dannie Guthrie may also return to the squad.

"We will know more on Joey soon while the medical staff have a look at him," assistant manager John Carver told the Chronicle.

"He is being assessed and they will tell us if he is OK.

"It has been a good week in training, though, for Shola and Stephen Ireland, and those two have to be looked at as real plusses.

"Danny Guthrie is also back training and in contention again."

Hatem Ben Arfa, who has also been missing through injury after breaking his leg against manchester City last year, was expected to return for Newcastle. But Pardew, believes this may be too early.

"I am going to protect him. I cannot just throw him in," he said.

"The Wolves game sounds optimistic, even though I am sure, in his own mind, he has set that as his target.

"He is still very much in the process of recovery and he has a long road back. It may even take us into May.

"To break both bones in the shin is tough, not just physically but mentally, too."

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