GRAEME SOUNESS' initial confidence that midfielders Kieron Dyer and Emre will return to action for Newcastle United this weekend has waned, writes Paul Fraser.

Souness had hoped both players would be back for tomorrow's visit of Manchester City to St James' Park, but that possibility appears to have dwindled considerably.

Having been caught out once already this season by the nature of the pair's hamstring problems, Souness is reluctant to gamble a second time and is resigned to being without them again.

Dyer and Emre had to be substituted before half-time in the defeat to Manchester United last month, raising question marks over whether or not the players had been brought back prematurely.

After watching them in full training all week, Souness now has to decide if the time is right to bring them back into the first team fold.

The situation is such that the manager is even convinced Nolberto Solano has a better chance to make his second debut for the club than either Dyer or Emre playing.

Solano's thigh injury has certainly improved a great deal since signing from Aston Villa on deadline day and he is nearing a call-up to play on the right of midfield.

That is despite the Peruvian's insistence this week that he will not be thrown into the team ahead of schedule - claiming he wants to feel right in himself before playing again.

It is for that reason Dyer and Emre have edged ahead of Solano in the race to return to Premiership action.

There has not been a better time to make a comeback this season after Newcastle's belated first win of the campaign on Sunday at Blackburn.

The goals from Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Charles N'Zogbia at Ewood Park have lifted spirits to a season high on Tyneside.

Now there is a determination to follow that first victory with a home win for the first time since the victory over Liverpool on March 3.

Souness will be boosted in his squad selection by the return to fitness of Shola Ameobi and Michael Chopra, while £6.5m midfielder Scott Park is back after suspension.

Defender Titus Bramble is the likely man to replace Steve Taylor, who is banned tomorrow after his sending off at Blackburn.

But it is the situations of Dyer, Emre and Solano that Souness is sweating on the most ahead of the visit of City.

And the Newcastle boss believes having the trio available for selection will totally transform his side's fortunes this season, knowing their fifth from bottom placing still rankles with the supporters.

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