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Having been 7 points behind just a game or two ago, Newcastle head to Cardiff City on Friday knowing that a win there could get them to within just 1 point of leaders Brighton, really turning the heat up on the south coast side in the title race.
With off the field issues once again rearing their ugly head, some people at the club may have their minds elsewhere but for Rafa Benitez and the players, they will want to carry on with the great feeling generated by their win over Preston on Monday which guaranteed their return to the Premier League.
There will be little change in Rafa’s team, though we may now see a more attack-minded style of play as the shackles are now off the long time Championship favourites.
Although Karl Darlow looks to be the long-term no.1, Elliot was given a long-awaited start the other night but in truth, he had little to do. He may be given another chance to shine here.
Vurnon Anita had a torrid time in the first half against Preston and may well be replaced by Yedlin. The American was fit enough for the bench on Monday so could well get the nod from the start this time.
The young centre-back is buzzing right now having just captained Newcastle to promotion. He will be full of confidence going into this one with his reliable regular partner back by his side.
Newcastle’s best defender; his return coincides with a big improvement in the performance and he will be vital once again.
If nothing else, the Welsh international’s fitness is admirable and he continues to show energy in his performances at left-back.
Another very fit member of the side, Ritchie is in line to be player of the season at St James’ Park and will cause all sorts of problems again in Cardiff.
Arguably running out of steam somewhat, but the former England man is definitely of Premier League class and his passing skills will be important in the game.
Another player who was a big miss when injured; Hayden did well to set up Newcastle’s crucial second goal against Preston and is proving to be a real box-to-box midfield dynamo.
Yoan Gouffran had made this position his own, but after an energetic goal scoring performance on Monday, it would be harsh to leave the young man out.
The Spaniard has had a running battle all season with Mo Diame for this role, but he is another player who is on a high after his two (fortuitous) goals last time and should start again.
With an improved attitude, Mitrovic has been good lately and may get his chance again on Friday. A goal from him would be no surprise.