St. James' Park
Newcastle’s fading top six aspirations received a boost with their first victory in four home games at the expense of Manchester United. Demba Ba’s 15th goal of the season broke the deadlock but the Magpies will be without the prolific Senegalese frontman following his departure alongside Cheik Tiote to the African Nations Cup. Alan Pardew could be relying on his defence, who have kept three clean sheets in their last five. QPR sacked Neil Warnock with the club just one place above the drop zone following an eight-game winless streak, losing six in the process. Incoming Mark Hughes will be aiming to shore up the R’s defence, which has conceded in each of its last 11 outings. Five of Newcastle’s nine victories have been by a single-goal margin while the visitors have lost six of their last seven by the same difference.
Danny Guthrie returns to the Newcastle squad having been sidelined by a groin injury since the beginning of December and will provide manager Alan Pardew with a fresh option in the wake of Cheick Tiote’s departure for the African Cup of Nations. However, Peter Lovenkrands (calf) is unlikely to make the game, and Sammy Ameobi (knee) has joined fellow midfielder Sylvain Marveaux (groin) and defender Steven Taylor (Achilles) on the list of long-term absentees.
Mark Hughes will be unable to call upon several of his biggest names for his first game in charge of QPR. Joey Barton, the captain, remains suspended for the trip to his former club, while Adel Taarabt and Armand Traore are on African Nations Cup duty. Alejandro Faurlin (knee) has been ruled out for the rest of the season and goalkeeper Paddy Kenny is keeping his fingers crossed he does not suffer a recurrence of the hip problem that has dogged him recently.
Possible starting XIs:
T Krul • D Simpson, M Williamson, F Coloccini, D Santon • R Taylor, D Guthrie, Y Cabaye, Jonas Gutiérrez • L Best, Sh Ameobi
P Kenny • L Young, A Ferdinand, D Gabbidon, C Hill • S Wright-Phillips, S Derry, A Buzsaky, T Smith • H Helguson, J Mackie