Newcastle - Swansea kicks off in just a few hours, and Newcastle have several players that will be looking to prove their fitness in order to play. The projected lineups range from pretty darn weak to quite strong. Let's take a look at each situation.
Center back has been a bit of a problem for Newcastle. Here's the situation: Fabricio Coloccini (thigh) is characterized as a game time decision. Mike Williamson, who is recovering from an ankle injury picked up in Newcastle's Carling Cup tie with Scunthorpe back in August, played 45 minutes with the reserves on Tuesday and will need to prove his fitness in order to play. If either are unable to go, James Perch is the likely replacement, and in the event that neither make the lineup, Alan Pardew could move Danny Simpson to the middle (with Davide Santon taking his place on the right) as he did last week. The other candidate to play at center back would be Tamas Kadar.
Dan Gosling will serve the first game of a three game suspension after being shown a straight red card in last week's loss to Norwich City. First stringer Cheik Tiote (MCL) could possibly return after missing 7 matches, but if he is proven unfit, Pardew will have to look to his fourth holding midfielder. There are three main candidates for this position: Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, and Alan Smith. Pardew made a lot of noise last week about Abeid stepping in, but then he didn't even make the bench while Smith came in as a very late substitute. Bottom line: Newcastle supporters should be hoping for Tiote's return.
Steven Taylor is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, while Sylvain Marveaux and Danny Guthrie continue to nurse long-term injuries. Guthrie was declared out with a groin strain for 4 to 6 weeks about a week ago. Marveaux had groin surgery in late November, and his expected return date is currently late March to early April.
As this game will be played at Sports Direct Arena, Steve Harper is likely to back up Tim Krul rather than Rob Elliot.
For Swansea, midfielder Joe Allen will return from a one-game suspension. They have no other injury issues, which makes me very jealous indeed.
Final Selection Guesses
NUFC (4-4-2): Krul | Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, RTaylor | Obertan, Cabaye, Vuckic, Jonas | Shola, Ba
Subs: Harper, Kadar, Santon, Abeid, Lovenkrands, Ben Arfa, Best
SCFC (4-3-3): Vorm | Richards, Williams, Monk, Taylor | Britton, Gower, Routledge | Sinclair, Graham, Dyer
Subs: Tremmel, Caulker, Allen, Moore, Lita, Aguestin, Bessone