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Smalling and Evans back in contention

MANCHESTER -- Manchester United’s defensive injury problems have eased with centre-backs Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans back in contention to face Newcastle on Saturday.

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England international Smalling, who has not figured since the 3-0 win at West Brom on March 8, has recovered from a hamstring injury.

And Northern Irishman Evans, who has been out for two months with a calf injury, is also on the comeback trail.

Chris Smalling has apologised for wearing the costume.
Smalling has been sidelined for four weeks with a hamstring injury and has just six league games remaining to force his way into Roy Hodgson's 23-man England roster

United could be without left-back Alexander Buttner, but Patrice Evra, who was suspended for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich, is available again while the 40-year-old Ryan Giggs might also miss the match against Alan Pardew’s team.

Manager David Moyes said at his prematch news conference: "We have got Evans and Smalling back in training. Ryan Giggs got an injury in the [midweek] game, but we are not so worried about Alex Buttner. Jonny and Chris are on the way back and we have missed them. We want their youth and enthusiasm."

Their return gives Moyes a decision to make after Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic impressed against Bayern but it could allow him to rest the veterans ahead of the second leg tie with the Bundesliga champions.

The game at St James’ Park comes four days before the return leg of United’s Champions League quarter-final at the Allianz Arena.

But Moyes added: "We are only thinking about the Newcastle game. We have to go there and put on a good performance, get the three points and gain some momentum.

"I have got other things in mind, but the focus is Newcastle. We need to balance things correctly. We have got an extra day's recovery between games, but the message to the players is that this is important."

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