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Newcastle United v Birmingham- A tough game following a tough week

Newcastle United host a Birmingham City side that have very much exceeded pre-season expectations. Can the Magpies get back on track this weekend?

Nottingham Forest v Newcastle United - Sky Bet Championship
Referee Stephen Martin shows Paul Dummett a bizarre red card
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Let's put anger and frustration aside and call a spade a spade. Newcastle played Nottingham Forest last week and lost the football match. It has been an unusual week since, with fans still fuming about the refereeing performance they witnessed at the City Ground. Luckily though, the red cards shown to Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett have BOTH been rescinded and they will be available for this weekend's game. Shelvey was due to serve a three game ban, while Dummett faced missing a solitary match.

Given the fact that the former may well be banned for an extended period, depending on the outcome of his personal FA hearing on the 19th, it is crucial that he plays as much as possible before then. As much as Rafa Benitez has replacements in each position, one player he cannot replace is Shelvey. Nobody else in the squad does what he does. His range of passing gives the team a different dimension in the middle of the park. He makes Newcastle tick.

In terms of injury news, Benitez has revealed that Ayoze Perez will miss out because of illness. He joins long term absentees Jesus Gamez and Rolando Aarons on the sidelines, but should be fine for next week. Rob Elliot is back in training, but is unlikely to feature yet due to a lack of fitness and with Karl Darlow being bang in form lately. Elliot will however be involved for the U-23's on Monday night when they face Aston Villa.

Aleksandar Mitrovic is pushing for a start and with Dwight Gayle playing over 200 minutes last week, it would not be a surprise if the big Serbian was recalled.

Jack Colback is also back in contention and could be placed straight back into the side.

The visitors have a couple of key players missing. David Davis will miss out through suspension. Their impressive winger Jacques Maghoma, who missed last week's Barnsley defeat through illness, could also be forced to sit out. His absence will likely mean that David Cotterill deputises on the right hand side.

Stephen Gleeson could come into the starting XI, but Blues' manager Gary Rowett has favoured Dutchman Maikel Kieftenbeld in the central role.

Rowett has youngster Viv Salomon-Otabar available, but it would be very bold to start the 20 year old winger at St James' Park. He will probably fill the remaining three forward berths with his three recognised strikers. Che Adams is best suited for the number ten role, so either Donaldson or Jutkiewicz will start on the left wing.

Following last week's controversy, I would imagine Newcastle will be chomping at the bit to get out onto the pitch and put things right. Birmingham should not be under-estimated though, they are flying high in the table for a reason. Even after a very poor display last week, they will come to Newcastle with nothing to lose.

Likely line ups

Newcastle: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Colback, Ritchie, Diame, Gouffran, Gayle

Birmingham: Kuszczak, Cogley, Shotton, Morrison, Grounds, Kieftenbeld, Tesche Cotterill, Adams, Donaldson, Jutkiewicz

Score prediction: Newcastle 2-0 Birmingham

How to follow the match:

The match will NOT be broadcasted live on TV this weekend. Although, you can follow live match commentary courtesy of BBC Radio Newcastle, as well as checking out our Twitter account of course.