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With the Championship title still a technical possibility for Newcastle, Rafa’s men have an extra motivating factor to finish the season on a real high in front of a sell-out 52,000 crowd at St James’ Park.
Matt Ritchie is suspended and skipper Jamaal Lascelles underwent a long awaited groin operation after promotion was guaranteed. So changes will be needed. It’s possible (though unlikely) that Dwight Gayle could return, but otherwise a similar line-up to the ones which convincingly beat Preston and Cardiff recently can be expected.
The Republic of Ireland international ‘keeper is just back from an injury of his own and it remains to be seen whether he will be on Tyneside beyond August. For now though, he is back in the team and may complete the season.
The American full-back has had a decent first season at St James’ Park and looks likely to be retained next year.
Once again, Mbemba can slot nicely into Lascelles’ place on the right of the two centre-backs.
Newcastle’s best defender this season, the former Villa man has shone once again since returning from injury and is a key reason why Newcastle are finishing the season on a high.
Underrated and inexplicably tormented, Dummett is a solid left-back and his fitness has been exemplary once again during a long season.
Splendid goals in each of the last 2 games have seen Atsu win many more hearts in the Newcastle stands and there is little doubt about him keeping his place in the team for this one.
The best passer in this division may well just unleash his full repertoire and it’ll be hard for the Barnsley defence to resist when he sets Atsu and Perez up.
Another player who was underrated by plenty of fans until they realised his importance during his time on the sidelines. Hayden can make it at the top level and remains solid in Newcastle’s midfield.
The Frenchman may well earn a recall for what may well be his final game in a Newcastle shirt. Gouffran had somewhat of a revival this season on the left and it would be fitting if he scores for one last time in front of the home fans.
His goals (albeit lucky) against Preston and versatility against Cardiff on the left have seen him slightly raise his profile with Rafa, right at the end of the campaign and he may well start one last time.
Although the goals have not arrived, a change in attitude and commitment have been apparent from Mitrovic in recent games and he may yet again finish with a flourish.