Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is desperate to have skipper Fabricio Coloccini back for Saturday's trip to West Ham.
The Argentine has been out of action since the end of February but is in line to make a timely return as the Magpies look to ease their relegation fears at Upton Park.
And with spirits in the United camp at rock bottom following the 6-0 humiliation against Liverpool, Pardew believes the centre-half will not only shore up their leaky defence but provide some much-needed leadership on the pitch.
"I think Colo's important this week, no disrespect to the two centre-halves who played against Liverpool," Pardew told the Chronicle.
"I think his leadership is important. Hopefully, he comes through this week, and we can get him out on the pitch with the armband on."
Of the two centre halves on duty against Liverpool, Steven Taylor appears the most likely to retain his place against the physical threat of former team-mates Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan.