Bournemouth Manager Eddie Howe has been given a massive injury boost ahead of the game against Newcastle United this weekend with the news that star striker Jermain Defoe is back in full training.
A free transfer signing from Sunderland last summer, Defoe has failed to have the expected impact back on the south coast but having missed the best part of two months with a fractured ankle, the England International is back at just the right time.
The Cherries have had a mixed campaign but the return of Defoe will give Howe a boost as he looks to keep the club clear of the relegation zone, whilst the player himself knows that the remainder of the season is crucial if he is to have any chance of making the England World Cup squad.
The 35-year-old has not been involved at National level since October and with competition for places hotting up, a strong finish to the campaign is a must if he is to have any chance of boarding the plane to Russia.
So far this season, the former Spurs Striker has three goals from 15 appearances on the south coast and with Howe short of top class strikers in his squad, there is sure to be plenty of chances for the popular forward to enhance that record.
Callum Wilson is doing a sterling job up front on his own has he continues to recover from an awful injury spell but with Josh King struggling to re-find his best form and Benik Afobe shipped out on loan, the return of Defoe is coming at just the right time for Bournemouth.
The potential sight of Defoe in the match day squad is sure to send shivers down the spine of Newcastle this weekend as they come up against one of their old enemies at Dean Court.
The former Sunderland man has netted eight times against the Magpies during his career, including two goals in the Tyne-Wear Derby during his spell in the north-east, and Rafa Benitez is sure to be wary of the threat posed off the bench.
A win for Newcastle this weekend could see them leapfrog the Cherries in the Premier League table with the bottom half of the table looking as congested as ever. The Magpies are coming off a massive win against Man United last time out whilst Bournemouth saw their excellent start to 2018 ended abruptly when they lost 4-1 at the John Smith's Stadium against Huddersfield.
However, a Cherries victory this weekend will push them onto 34 points and within touching distance of safety. Eddie Howe is aware that this weekend is a big opportunity to bounce back from their disappointment in Yorkshire.
We've talked about the Huddersfield result and we're very aware of how we felt afterwards. I want them to use that as a positive emotion that it was a blip."
The Bournemouth Manager is expected to make a late decision on the participation of Defoe but a place on the bench looks likely, and the Cherries faithful will be eager to see him back his best.
Gareth Southgate will also be watching closely over the coming days and weeks as he mulls over his England squad for the summer. A fantastic record at a terrible Sunderland side saw the veteran push his way back into International contention and it would be a remarkable story if the 35-year-old can bounce back from injury to make the World Cup squad.