By Emma Sanders
Newcastle’s Grant Hanley is in contention for a place in the squad against Blackburn.
The Chronicle claim Hanley could be in line to make a return after sitting out almost two months through injury.
The defender is set be named in the squad to face his former club when Newcastle take on Blackburn on Monday and is expected provide competition for the centre-back roles.
The Scotland international, 25, has not played for Newcastle since their 2-1 victory against Preston in October when he came on as a substitute.
His last league start was against Fulham in August but he has since played for Scotland during their 3-0 defeat against England at Wembley in November.
Hanley’s return is perfect timing for Rafa Benitez because Newcastle will lose defender Chancel Mbemba when he joins up with the Congo international squad to start their preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations.
It means Hanley will provide much-needed defensive cover for first team duo Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles and he could be called upon throughout January if Benitez opts to rest his defenders.
It’s unlikely he will make an appearance against Blackburn, with a squad place a more realistic goal but he could start the FA Cup third round tie against Birmingham.
In other Newcastle news, Dwight Gayle claims they must do this to gain promotion.