The midfielder missed last weekend's 1-0 home defeat by Cardiff with a calf problem but has returned to training and is expected to be available at St James' Park.
However, key winger Adam Johnson is out after suffering a slight hamstring tear against the Bluebirds.
Boro are hopeful Johnson will be fit for the Boxing Day clash with Scunthorpe but this match will come too soon for him.
Defender Sean St Ledger is unavailable after his loan deal from Preston drew to a close while Seb Hines (ankle surgery) will be out for up to eight weeks.
Didier Digard (back), Jeremie Aliadiere (ankle surgery) and Matthew Bates (cruciate ligament) remain on the sidelines.
The match kicks off at 1pm.