Ireland makes progress
Newcastle loanee Stephen Ireland is eyeing a return to full training by the end of next week.
The midfielder, who joined from Aston Villa on a deal until the end of season on transfer deadline day, has yet to feature for his new club due to a knee injury.
The 24-year-old revealed he had been expecting to return early in March, but encouraging progress this week means his recovery is now ahead of schedule.
"We thought it would be a couple of weeks," Ireland told club website nufc.co.uk.
"But I went running outside [on Thursday] at a decent level and decent pace, and I reckon it could be by the end of next week hopefully.
"I've just got to do a few more sessions and then see how far I can push it. If it goes well then I could be back soon.
"I haven't got any specific game in mind. I've just got to take a day at a time really, because one day it could feel amazing and then the next day really bad.
"It's quite strange, but I have to see how I feel on a day-to-day basis."
Ireland failed to hold down a first-team berth at Villa following his summer transfer from Manchester City and is eyeing a run in the Magpies' starting XI when he does finally return to full fitness.
"After two weeks at a club you want to be getting involved in the playing and training, but I'm not far away," he continued.
"I didn't come here just to get treatment - I came here to play. Thankfully things are getting right now and I'm almost there."