Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has revealed that top scorer Loic Remy is not fit to return for Saturday's visit to Stoke City.
Remy has proved to be a sensation for Newcastle since joining on loan from Championship side QPR in August, scoring 13 goals in 23 Premier League appearances.
However, the France international has not featured since last month's 4-1 win at Hull City - which saw Pardew sent from the stands for headbutting Hull's David Meyler - because of a calf injury.
Newcastle have scored only one Premier League goal during Remy's five-game absence, which came in the 1-0 triumph over Crystal Palace.
Remy is thought to be nearing full fitness, but Pardew confirmed on Thursday that the trip to the Britannia Stadium will come too soon for the 27-year-old.
"He won't make this game, but he's training," Pardew said. "We like to think he'll make the next game (against Swansea City).
"To lose the spearhead of your team is difficult, he's somebody who's scored a lot of goals this year."
However, Pardew may be able to call on goalkeeper Tim Krul, who has missed Newcastle's last two games - 4-0 defeats to Southampton and Manchester United - with a knee problem.
"Tim's been training. I think he's got a chance of playing," the former West Ham boss added.
Newcastle have come in for criticism following their heavy reverses to Southampton and United, which were preceded by a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Everton.
And Pardew - set to serve the third game of a four-match touchline ban handed down for the incident with Meyler - has urged his players to lift the gloom by completing a league double over Stoke after a 5-1 success against Mark Hughes' team back in December.
"I think, among the group, we're just trying to get the best performance we can, and keep it as positive as we can going into Stoke," he explained.
"The most important thing for the club this weekend is to try and get a result at Stoke, and to put in a performance that we can be proud of."comments