Newcastle entertain Bournemouth in desperate need of three points as Steve McClaren’s nightmare debut season as Magpies manager continues.
The Toon’s 1-0 defeat at Stoke in midweek was their 11th away defeat of the campaign and ensured that they did not add to their pitiful seven goals scored on the road.
It was a result which left McClaren’s men second bottom in the Premier League, and so far the money spent on new players in January has not reversed the team’s fortunes; Jonjo Shelvey has faded after a bright start and Seydou Doumbia remains lacking in match fitness.
However, Newcastle’s recent home form offers cause for optimism; they have lost just twice in their last 10 games at St. James’ Park and have beaten West Ham and West Brom in recent weeks; a similar result this weekend is much-needed if McClaren is to stave off the wrath of 52,000 Geordie fans.
Bournemouth picked up a crucial 2-0 win against south coast neighbours Southampton on Tuesday to enhance their survival chances; the Cherries are now eight points clear of the bottom three with 10 games left to play.
Benik Afobe found the net to take his record to four in his last seven apperances, and Eddie Howe’s side are unbeaten when their new £10 million frontman finds the net, with three wins and a draw from those matches.
The visitors are in good shape away from home of late; they have lost just one of their last eight games on the road and have won as many away games (four) as Newcastle have at home.
Newcastle could be without skipper Fabricio Coloccini and winger Andros Townsend through injury, but forgotten man Siem de Jong is available after recovering from an eye problem.
Influential midfielder Harry Arter is doubtful for the visitors, as are Josh King and Junior Stanislas. Max Gradel came through 85 minutes on his full return to the side in midweek and is set to be involved again in the north-east.
League Position: Newcastle – 19th (24 pts); Bournemouth – 15th (32 pts)
Previous Meeting: Bournemouth 0-1 Newcastle (November 7, 2015)
Form: Newcastle – WLLWLL; Bournemouth – DWLLDW
Key Players: Newcastle – Aleksandar Mitrovic; Bournemouth – Benik Afobe
Shoot Says: Newcastle 2-1 Bournemouth