By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Daryl Janmaat is set to give Rafael Benitez a selection dilemma in Newcastle’s final two Premier League matches.
The manager revealed on Friday afternoon that the Dutch international is close returning to fitness and is likely to be available for the encounters against Aston Villa and Tottenham.
Janmaat has missed the last three matches after punching a wall in frustration three weeks ago and breaking two fingers in the 3-1 defeat at Southampton.
The Dutchman is running again but may have to play with a protective cover on his arm when he returns.
“He’s very close,” said Benitez of the right-back, as quoted by the Newcastle Chronicle. “Next week we will see. He needs to have the protection and next week he will be a little bit better and have more confidence.”
Newcastle will also have Kevin Mbabu in the squad that faces Crystal Palace but Fabricio Coloccini is definitely out and highly doubtful for the rest of the season. Steven Taylor is also unlikely to figure against Alan Pardew’s side.
“We have Mbabu who was training the other day and it is more or less the same,” Benitez told the Chronicle. “We don’t have Coloccini or Janmaat and Steven Taylor is coming back.”
Coloccini has been out since February with a calf problem while Taylor was injured at Southampton after a poor display.
Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich are locked in a three-way battle to stay in the Premier League, with two of them set to join relegated Aston Villa in the Championship next season.
Benitez’s side are 19th in the league on 30 points but have accumulated five points in their last three matches and are just one point behind 17th placed Sunderland, who also have a game in hand on the Magpies, and Norwich.
In other Newcastle news, the club are preparing a summer move for a 26-year-old Arsenal international.