Fabricio Coloccini will return to the Newcastle starting line up before the end of the season, according to Argentine compatriot Jonas Gutierrez.
Coloccini, 31, has endured a difficult start to 2013 after initially asking the club to sanction a January move to former club San Lorenzo - citing 'personal reasons'. Agreeing to stay until May, the defender then injured his back during the club's 4-2 win over Southampton after attempting a bicycle kick clearance.
Despite initial reports suggesting the club captain would miss up to eight weeks of action, Gutierrez believes fans have not seen the last of Coloccini.
"Yes. When he got the injury they said six to eight weeks only," he told the Evening Chronicle. "When you talk about Colo we know he can do it quicker. He always does the right things and he doesn't have any problems, so we will see him soon.
"I spoke with him and he's feeling better. It is a long-term injury of about a month or so. Therefore it was going to be hard to bring him back in the condition that he left. We know what type of professional he is and we understand he can't come back and just play a little bit. We all want him back to play full games. We want him back as quickly as possible because he's really important for us."
It is hoped the Argentine international may be fit in time for the second leg of Newcastle's Europa League tie against Benfica on April 11. Currently back in his homeland on compassionate leave afforded to him by Alan Pardew, the defender is expected to return to the club soon to further his rehabilitation.