Fabricio Coloccini is set to miss next month’s derby, according to the latest medical bulletin from St James’ Park.
The assertion the centre-back’s medial knee injury will rule him out for five weeks comes from an unattributed source at the club and should therefore be treated with caution - but it appears on the Sports Direct News website.
Although the website of the Mike Ashley-owned firm has a patchy record in terms of transfer speculation, The Journal understands the club has been told to funnel news through it first.
Manager Alan Pardew’s immediate post-match prognosis was Coloccini would be out for “four to six weeks” with the problem.
The short end of that timescale would have allowed him to return for the February 1 visit of Sunderland.
So although the updated prognosis sits slap bang in the middle of that period, the extra precision is significant.
Pardew will be under pressure in the February 1 game because he is the first Magpies manager since 1967 to lose consecutive games to Sunderland. Not since 1923 have they lost to their old rivals in three straight games.
Meanwhile, Montpellier claim they are expecting to receive a Newcastle bid for playmaker Remy Cabella, but hinted a summer move for the £14m-rated Frenchman is more likely.
As someone capable of playing wide but more often used in the hole, the 23-year-old looks like a long-term replacement for Yohan Cabaye.
Newcastle are adamant they do not want to sell their best creative player this month and fought off interest in him at the start of the season.
Manchester United and Arsenal have also been linked with Cabella.
Montpellier president Louis Nicollin said: “Manchester has not sent any proposal.
“As for Newcastle, it seems to me they are about to make one, but I expect confirmation on that – but the idea is still that Remy is with Montpellier until June.”
Montpellier coach Rolland Courbis seems relaxed about the situation.
He said: “Remy Cabella? “It is best to keep him but if Loulou (Nicollin) decides it can be done in January it will be done in January.”
In the short-term, Cabella could offer Pardew more options out wide, with Newcastle ready to listen to offers for Jonas Gutierrez, Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan.
Obertan, who is yet to start a game this season, was booed when he came on as a substitute in Newcastle’s FA Cup third-round defeat to Cardiff City.
The former Manchester United winger did little in the game to suggest his next appearance will come any time soon.
Obertan reportedly stormed out of St James’ after last month’s game at home to Arsenal, when he was not even selected for the bench. At least Obertan managed that much on Saturday. Despite Pardew making seven changes as he rested players after the busy Festive programme, neither Gutierrez nor Marveaux did.
Gutierrez has been linked with Norwich City, managed by former Magpies boss Chris Hughton.
A Pardew favourite in previous years, he has not started since the opening game of the season at Manchester City and has only made one substitute appearance.
He returned to Argentina during the first half of the season for “personal reasons”.
Marveaux has not appeared since September’s League Cup win over Leeds United.
Meanwhile, long-term target Moussa Sow has talked of his desire to play Premier League football.
With Papiss Cisse’s confidence low, Loic Remy only on loan and Shola Ameobi out of contract at the end of the season, a new striker is high among director of football Joe Kinnear’s priorities.
Fenerbahce’s Sow has long been of interest to the club.
The 27-year-old with a reported €17m release clause has been careful to hedge his bets when discussing the future.
He said: “I am happy at Fenerbahce and don’t think about leaving. However, everyone knows I want to play in the Premier League one day.”