Good afternoon, Toon Army. Lots of injury updates today.
A couple of days ago, Stephen Ireland said he was ready for first team action, and he may just get his wish as it appears that Joey Barton may be out for another week with a thigh injury. (The Guardian) Ireland has given a few interviews in the last few days, first speaking with Lee Ryder of The Chronicle about the welcome he's received from the Toon Army, then with Stuart Rayner of The Journal about his opportunity for redemption. Meanwhile, Paul Fraser of The Northern Echo is already thinking about what it will take to make Ireland's loan move permanent. A little premature in my opinion, but hopefully Ireland's play makes this a possibility.
Hatem Ben Arfa's targeted return date of April 2 has been pushed back, seemingly by Alan Pardew, who may be a bit gunshy about players returning from injury following Dan Gosling's recent setback. (Will Scott, The Northern Echo)
Alan Pardew says that Shane Ferguson is close to the first team, and hints that James Tavernier might be as well. Good read if you enjoy keeping up with the younger players. (Lee Ryder, The Chronicle)
Kevin Keegan doubts that Alan Pardew will get to use the Andy Carroll cash this summer. To me, this is the definition of a non-story, but people want to talk about it, so here's the link. (Mark Douglas, The Journal)