Newcastle United defender Federico Fernandez is apparently edging closer to a first-team return according to Eddie Howe.
The Argentina international suffered a thigh injury back in December.
He has not yet trained with the team since suffering that issue but Howe has suggested he isn’t too far off coming back into the picture.
He said yesterday (via Chronicle): “Fede’s edging closer as well. I don’t see Fede being too far away. Fede is a really important person in terms of his leadership qualities of the group.
“He’s a real fighter. In terms of our position currently in the league, he’s a real inspirational figure around the club so I was desperate to try and keep him available for selection.”
Fernandez has only been able to play a bit-part role this season for the Magpies.
He was regularly left out of the matchday squad earlier in the season by Steve Bruce, and then by Graeme Jones.
And then injury problems have also prevented him from being available.
He has therefore made only seven Premier League appearances so far in 2021/22.
Arguably, his absence has harmed Newcastle a fair bit this season.
The club have kept just two clean sheets in the league, and conceded an alarming 43 goals.
Given Newcastle only brought in Dan Burn in January, his return to full fitness cannot really come soon enough for the Magpies.
Fernandez still has a big role to play for Newcastle as return nears
Fernandez is a proven performer in a relegation battle.
Hopefully, he won’t be on the sidelines for much longer.
That said, Burn is going to be a starter having been brought in last month from Brighton. And Howe then has to decide who’ll partner him.
Jamaal Lascelles is the captain, but he has not had a good season. It remains to be seen if Howe makes a big decision there.
And then Fabian Schar is the other option.
Fernandez might actually not see too many minutes between now and the end of the season. But Howe clearly sees him as a leader and has previously branded him ‘an outstanding player’ and an ‘ultimate professional’. Hopefully he can contribute one way or another.