This evening, Aston Villa make the trip to the north east to face Newcastle at St James’ Park in a game that the visitors sorely need to pick up three points.
At the weekend, Newcastle saw off Sheffield United 3-0 at St James’ Park to all but secure their own safety, but a loss to Chelsea means Villa remain second from bottom and in serious danger of plummeting straight back to the Championship.
Newcastle v Villa – Team News
Newcastle got through the encounter with Chris Wilder’s side somewhat unscathed, with no injury concerns reported following the match. Going in to the Villa game, the injury list will be somewhat similar to the one that existed pre-Sheffield.
Paul Dummett is unavailable for the rest of the season with the Premier League not allowing teams to revamp their Premier League squads. He was removed from ours in January when he suffered what was then a season-ending injury.
Jetro Willems remains on the sidelines and won’t play for Newcastle United again unless the club make his loan move from Frankfurt a permanent one. Meanwhile, Jack Colback and Jamie Sterry were both released by the club yesterday.
Both Longstaff brothers are still listed for the game as doubtful. Bruce said Matty Longstaff trained for the first time yesterday but Sean likely won’t be available at all as he continues to deal with a “niggle”.
Ciaran Clark and Florian Lejeune remain on the injured list as they continue to recover from an ankle operation and a knee injury respectively.
Bruce will need to bare in mind the visit of a Manchester City side on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter-final. They looked very fresh in their 5-0 victory over Burnley on Monday and have a very deep squad – so we could see one or two rested with a view to that game.
As for our visitors, Aston Villa will be without Tom Heaton, Wesley, Bjorn Engels and Frederic Guilbert, while Danny Drinkwater is listed as doubtful.
Midfielder John McGinn had an ice pack on his hamstring after going off against Chelsea at the weekend, so he could require time to heal and may not feature tonight. Meanwhile, young striker Keinan Davis is set to start up top ahead of January acquisition Mbwana Samatta for the third game in a row.
Tonight’s game is not vital to our season really. The win against Sheffield United at the weekend has given us a bit of breathing room to the bottom three and relegation is no longer something the boys will be too worried about.
We can afford to start looking up the table now but with a massive game to come this weekend in the FA Cup, it may be in Steve Bruce’s best interest to leave one or two of his stars on the bench tonight in order to maintain their fitness for that game.
In a poll this week, popular Newcastle fan page NUFC 360 asked fans if they would rest players for the game tonight or go all out to beat Aston Villa. Given the history with Villa and the natural disdain our supporters have towards the Villains, it’s no surprise to anyone to know the overwhelming majority of fans said they hope we go all out to beat Dean Smith’s side tonight.
As for Villa, they sit in second bottom and are in serious danger of crashing right back down to the Championship at the first time of asking, which would be something of a disaster for them given the sheer amount of money they spent last summer.
While they have some great players and have performed admirably on many an occasion this season, they just don’t seem to have that winning edge – which could prove to be deadly for them in their pursuit of survival.
With games against Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United coming up after tonight’s match, picking up all three points here is an absolute must for Dean Smith. Villa will be incredibly fired up for this one and, if they want to stay in the league, they might very well need to win it.
Newcastle have kept a clean sheet in each of our last four games at St James’ Park and, I would like to think that will continue tonight, but I’m not sure it will. That said, we tend to be quite solid at home so if we do concede, it likely won’t be more than one.
I’m going to opt for a 1-1 draw tonight, which is not too bad a result for us personally.