Today Newcastle United and manager Steve McClaren will be looking to make up for an awful performance at Everton by getting the 3 points and giving the fans some faith that our expensively assembled squad has what it takes to pull out of the bottom 3 and avoid the threat of relegation this year.
It’s fair to say that the fans have been calling out for quality defensive reinforcements for several transfer windows now and yet again the club failed to address the area in January. As a result, we were one injury away from crisis and hey presto! Chancel Mbemba has now been ruled out for several weeks with an ankle injury. His replacement Jamaal Lascelles got himself sent off so misses out today leaving only Captain Fabricio Coloccini and an injury prone hot and cold running Steven Taylor available, who will be lacking match sharpness. At left back Paul Dummett has aggravated his hamstring and sits out for a while whilst Massaido Heidara remains absent until mid March with a knee complaint. Kevin Mbabu returns to the squad carrying a knock and may have to fill in again. Jack Colback (hamstring) is out until next week at the earliest whilst Vurnon Anita and Gabriel Obertan are carrying the same injury. Siem De Jong (eye) may or may not return to the squad today. Tim Krul and Curtis Good are out for the season. Seydou Doumbia is not fit enough to start according to McClaren, but Cheick Tiote returns to the squad following his collapsed move to China. Youngsters Callum Williams, Liam Gibson and Dan Barlaser have all been training with the first team this week.
West Bromwich Albion:
Jonny Evans and James Morrison (both hamstring) are out for 3 and 5 weeks respectively. Callum McManaman has been ruled out by an ankle injury until the beginning of March whilst Chris Brunt (calf strain) is expected back next week. Otherwise it’s a clean bill of health for the Baggies even though Tony Pullis has hinted that Newcastle transfer target Saido Berahino is unlikely to start as he gathers match fitness. Expect him to come off the bench and put us to the sword then….
Shamrock’s stats and facts:
1) The first ever game between these sides took place in 1898, finishing 3-0 to to the Magpies.
2) West Brom have failed to win on the road in the last 6 attempts.
3) Newcastle have won 6 of their 9 home Premier League games in this fixture.
4) Victor Anichebe has scored more times against the Toon than any other PL side (5).
5) West Bromwich Albion have scored 39% of their goals from headers this season, a PL high.
6) Newcastle have filed to keep a clean sheet for 9 games.
Officiating today is 44-year-old Lee Mason from Bolton. Of the 19 Toon games he has officiated since 2010, Newcastle have won only 6. He has taken only one Magpies fixture against the Baggies, which took place at the Hawthorns and finished 1-0 to West Brom. Lee Mason caused controversy when he failed to award Newcastle a stone-wall penalty when we were 1 goal down against Liverpool in April 2015. Lovren hacked down Perez and Liverpool went on to win 2-0. Overall though, he is a steady and experienced referee that generally gets the big calls right. He’s just not a lucky omen for us!
Kick off at 15:00, St. James’ Park.
Toon: 21 Elliot, 22 Janmaat, 27 Taylor, 2 Coloccini, 16 Aarons, 12 Shelvey, 24 Tioté, 7 Sissoko, 5 Wijnaldum, 25 Townsend, 45 Mitrovic. Substitutes: 17 Pérez, 23 Saivet, 26 Darlow, 28 Doumbia, 35 Gibson, 40 Williams, 47 Barlaser.
Baggies: 1 Foster, 25 Dawson, 23 McAuley, 3 Olsson, 4 Chester, 5 Yacob, 30 Sandro, 8 Gardner, 24 Fletcher, 14 McClean, 10 Anichebe. Substitutes: 13 Myhill, 15 Pocognoli, 17 Lambert, 18 Berahino, 20 Pritchard, 29 Sessegnon, 33 Rondón.