Newcastle United manager Alan Shearer is hoping forgotten man Joey Barton can revitalise his midfield just when he needs it most.
The 26-year-old former Manchester City player is expected to return to full training later this week after recovering from a fractured metatarsal and would then be in contention for the make-or-break Premier League clash with Portsmouth next Monday evening.
The Magpies midfield has lacked penetration in recent months, leaving the club's strikers starved of meaningful possession, so the return of a man who is yet to even start paying off his £5.8m transfer fee cannot come soon enough.
At his peak with City, Barton both scored and created goals, and Shearer is desperate for him to do just that as his side prepare for their final five games of the campaign, with three of them must-win affairs at St James' Park.
The manager said: ``Joey has had treatment all over the weekend and if everything goes well with him over the next few days, we might have him in full training on Thursday or Friday.
``He can also run on and get past the forwards, which, with all due respect, Nicky Butt, who is 34, can't do.
``He does well in other jobs that he does, but he can't get past the forwards, and if Joey is there to do that, then it would free up some other players.''
Barton was signed by former boss Sam Allardyce in July 2007, but has managed only 31 appearances since as a result of injuries and his spell in prison.
Just five of his 25 starts have come this season with knee and foot problems having severely restricted his attempts to belatedly prove his worth on Tyneside.