Jonas Gutierrez 'could return to Newcastle first team in January'

Jonas Gutierrez makes his playing return following cancer
Jonas Gutierrez played his last Premier League game for Newcastle in October 2013

Newcastle United midfielder Jonas Gutierrez could be back in contention for a first-team place by the end of January, says manager Alan Pardew.

Gutierrez, 31, played for the club's Under-21s on Monday afternoon after overcoming testicular cancer.

It was his first match since April, following surgery and chemotherapy.

Pardew said: "I don't think he'll feature in this Christmas period, but certainly by the end of January and into February he'll look to push on."

The Argentine, whose last competitive game came on loan at Norwich, played for 87 minutes as captain in Newcastle's 4-1 Under-21 Premier League Cup win over West Ham and tweeted:external-link "I am proud to be back."

Jonas Gutierrez
Jonas Gutierrez made his comeback at Whitley Park, home of the Northumberland Football Association

Toon boss Pardew said: "It's been a long, long road with the diagnosis he had, so we're overjoyed.

"He is fit, it's just getting used to the ball again, seeing a game scenario and getting back up to speed. I don't think it'll take him too long - maybe even quicker than I'm suggesting."

The former Mallorca man, who helped Newcastle win the Championship in his second season at St James' Park, has scored 10 goals in 177 league appearances for the Magpies since arriving in 2008.