Magpies handed Bassong boost
Newcastle defender Sebastien Bassong is fit for Saturday's clash with relegation rivals Stoke.
Last Updated: 09/04/09 5:29pm
Newcastle boss Alan Shearer has been handed a 'massive boost' following the news that Sebastien Bassong is fit for Saturday's crunch clash with relegation rivals Stoke.
The French defender missed the first game of his new manager's eight-game tenure as a groin complaint ruled him out of last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at St James' Park.
However, Bassong - who has impressed in his first season in England to reportedly catch the eye of Arsenal - is ready to return to the heart of the Magpies defence at the Britannia Stadium after coming through a week's training unscathed.
The loss to Chelsea was marked by a defensive error from centre-back Fabricio Coloccini in the build-up to the opening goal, and Shearer is pleased to be able to call on defensive reinforcements.
"Sebastien trained this week and has had no reaction," the former Newcastle captain told the club's official website. "It's a major boost to have him back."
However, Shearer will not be able to call on the services of full-back Jose Enrique for the crucial trip to Stoke as the Spaniard has sustained a knee injury.
Eighteenth-placed Newcastle are fighting for their top-flight status and travel to the Potteries hoping to reel in Stoke, who hold a six-point advantage.
But Shearer, who inherited a number of injury problems when he took over on Tyneside to prompt the appointment of Paul Ferris to oversee medical matters, will be hampered by the absence of Enrique.
"He caught a ball on his toe earlier in the week and it twisted his knee slightly," Shearer said when asked about the former Villarreal player. "Hopefully, though, he won't be out for too long."
Steven Taylor remains sidelined with his ankle complaint, while Peter Lovenkrands is recovering from the back injury which saw the winger leave St James' Park by ambulance at half-time against Chelsea.