English Premiership

Gutierrez back for Newcastle

2015-02-27 08:44
Jonas Gutierrez (Getty Images)

Newcastle - Jonas Gutierrez will add a new dimension to the task facing Aston Villa at Newcastle on Saturday as the struggling side continue their fight to stay in the Premier League.

Argentina international Gutierrez will be involved for the first time since recovering from testicular cancer and Newcastle's caretaker-manager John Carver knows his presence will lift the St James' Park crowd.

Carver said: "When we announce the team and our fans hear that Jonas is on the bench, can you imagine the feeling in the stadium?

"There is going to be a feelgood factor, but I'm not doing it for that reason, I'm doing it for football reasons and he's ready to be involved in the Premier League."

Gutierrez will wear his No.18 shirt and, as always, the Newcastle crowd will remember him in the 18th minute to mark his successful fight against an illness which has kept him out of football for a year.

"Our fans don't sing about you unless you're a character," he said.

"There's that song about him on 18 minutes and rightly so, because he's been a good servant. He still has something to offer."

Gutierrez's contract ends in the close-season and he feared that Carver would not recall him because owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley were reluctant to trigger a clause which would force them to offer the player a new contract.

But Carver said: "He obviously thinks that they're making the decision, but it's me.

"It's my decision and it was totally a football decision. I've had no conversations with either of them about Jonas, because I'm the one who picks the team.

"I will be the one who decides if he is ready for it- - and he is ready to go on the bench now.

"Jonas has had a hard fight, so to come back and play in the Premier League again would be magnificent.

"When I first saw him I was really concerned, but I suppose that's natural because he had a serious illness, but over the weeks he has got fitter and stronger."

Villa would certainly prefer a more subdued stadium, with new manager Tim Sherwood admitting they may require as many as six more wins to stay up.

They have gone 11 top-flight matches without a victory, dating back to December, and with just 12 matches remaining the former Tottenham boss knows he is under pressure to quickly turn the tide.

"Is it a bigger challenge than I thought? No. We have won five league games all season, we need to win six to stay in the division," Sherwood said.

"The reality has to kick in that we are in a dogfight here and we need points as soon as possible.

"It's a work in progress now and I am just trying to identify the strengths and weaknesses as soon as possible. I'm learning all the time about the guys."

Sherwood insisted there was no overnight fix to Villa's goalscoring woes -- they are the lowest scorers in all four divisions -- but has vowed to find a solution eventually.

Ron Vlaar is missing from the Villa team through suspension and Kieran Richardson (calf) is also doubtful, while Newcastle could recall Remy Cabella, Mehdi Abeid and Gabriel Obertan after injury lay-offs.


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