Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has played down suggestions that Andy Carroll is facing up to one month of rehabilitation in his recovery from a thigh injury.
The striker missed Sunday's 1-0 win over Wigan, where Shola Ameobi scored the only goal of the game to move his team into the top half of the Premier League.
It has been suggested that the victory at the DW Stadium will be the first of many matches for Newcastle when they will not be able to call on Carroll.
But Pardew hopes that the England international could come into contention for the Tyne-Wear derby on 16th January, which follows Wednesday's league match against West Ham and next weekend's FA Cup third round tie at Stevenage.
"We debated when he got this injury how serious it was with the medical staff and the answer is that we don't know," said Pardew after the win over Wigan.
"He will definitely miss West Ham and I think he'll definitely miss Stevenage (next Saturday), but talking to the boy, he thinks he is ready for Sunderland already.
"I've got to make a call on that game as to whether he is putting himself at risk and we'll have to see, but it's touch-and-go."
Meanwhile, Ameobi, who got his opportunity in Carroll's absence, was glad to get a chance to make amends for missing an early sitter as Newcastle kicked off 2011 with three points.
"When you get a chance so early on the good thing for me was I had 90 minutes to make one count and fortunately I had the opportunity to put one away," he told Sky Sports 1.
"I won't get an easier chance, but I'm delighted to get the three points for the boys and the city after a tough Christmas.
"In the first half we dominated but were only 1-0 up and you never know in this league. We didn't get a second but we defended well and we needed to start keeping clean sheets."
Kevin Nolan praised the display of Cheick Tiote, who, it has been speculated, was one of the reasons for the attendance of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson.
Nolan said of his fellow midfielder: "Tiote only gets better. The way he's taken to the league has been fantastic and he's been one of the buys of the season.
"On the field, he's been a man mountain and he's a great signing, a great kid and hopefully he's got a great future with Newcastle."