Chris Hughton has hinted that he could hand Sol Campbell his Newcastle debut against Blackpool.
The Magpies are set to face the Seasiders, who were promoted alongside them last term, at St James' Park on Saturday.
The game could see Campbell make his eagerly-anticipated bow, with the experienced centre-half having moved to Tyneside over the summer.
He has spent much of the time since then working on his fitness, and now has two reserve outings under his belt.
Hughton believes the 35-year-old England international is edging closer to match sharpness and admits he could be tempted to use him against Blackpool.
He said: "He is certainly available to play. He has played in two reserve games, admittedly not for 90 minutes, but he is fit and available.
"Sometimes you don't know if someone is ready until they are given the opportunity.
"Centre-back is a key position. We are very conscious of where Sol is at this moment, but the most important thing is that he is available."
Campbell may not be on the only fresh face on show this weekend, as Hughton admits all three of his summer signings are in contention.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote are also pushing for starting berths, handing their manager a welcome selection poser.
Hughton said: "What we have at the moment is a very settled team. The three new players are vying for places, which has made the competition all the greater.
"The important thing is that we now have a squad which is good enough and capable enough to get through a very demanding season.
"At the moment, the problem is that we have lots of players available for selection, but we are very aware that at other stages of the season, things could be very, very difficult and we need to have the squad to cope with those difficult periods."