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Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Newcastle United waiting on Stephen Ireland debut

Stephen Ireland
Ireland's last appearance came for Villa at Liverpool in December 2010

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has confirmed Stephen Ireland's debut may be further delayed after the player suffered a thigh pull in training.

The 24-year-old loanee had recently recovered from an initial knee injury he was carrying on his arrival from parent club Aston Villa in January.

"We're a little concerned about him," Pardew told BBC Newcastle.

"You get that when you come back from lay-offs, it's something we'll police between now and Saturday."

Former Republic of Ireland international Ireland has been absent from all first-team football since appearing in Villa's 3-0 defeat by Liverpool in December.

But Newcastle could have striker Shola Ameobi available when they host Everton at St James' Park on Saturday.

The 29-year-old is getting used to wearing a face mask after breaking a cheekbone in the Magpies' 1-0 defeat by Fulham in February.

"Shola is getting comfortable with his mask, it's not so much the pin, more his vision, it's hampered by it, he's getting used to it and there's a good chance he could be involved," said Pardew.

"It's more to do with the way the mask is made, in that you haven't got your normal sight.

"He's trying to get used to it, he's got a little bit of blurred vision right in the corners, and when you need to see the whole picture it takes a bit of getting used to.

"But what he does and how he plays, it shouldn't be too much of a problem, so I'm kind of pushing him."

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