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Newcastle United v Watford – The losing streak has to end here

Watford are coming to St James’ Park this weekend, and Newcastle United cannot afford to lose this one. 

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Jacob Murphy will go into the game on the back of an impressive showing against Manchester United.
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Rafa Benitez hopes to welcome back some of his key players ahead of the fixture against The Hornets. Both Paul Dummett and Mikel Merino look likely to return to the squad, at least. Whether they start the game or not remains to be seen, but Merino probably has the best chance.

Should the Welshman not be passed fit, then Javier Manquillo will keep his place at left-back.

Jamaal Lascelles’ chances of returning look very much touch and go, but the Magpies captain would be a welcome addition to the XI, after some huge defensive concerns at Old Trafford. Should he not be fit to return, Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark will continue their partnership, despite a very poor display last weekend.

Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Jamaal Lascelles missed the defeat at Old Trafford last weekend.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Chancel Mbemba appears very unlikely to start a game at centre-back in the near future, but Isaac Hayden’s suspension means that there could be a spot available alongside Jonjo Shelvey, especially if Merino does not make the game. Mo Diame is the more likely option though.

Christian Atsu is not yet ready to make his comeback from injury, so Jacob Murphy will be given another chance to impress after his promising performance against Manchester United. Matt Ritchie will also play.

Dwight Gayle and Joselu started together as the front two last week, but Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez will be breathing down their necks, hoping to start.

As for Watford, they will again be without Troy Deeney through suspension, after his altercation with Joe Allen before the international break. Andre Gray is Marco Silva’s preferred option up front regardless.

Kiko Femenia has been very impressive since arriving from Alaves in the summer, but faces a battle to be fit for the game. The Spaniard picked up a slight knock in the victory over West Ham. Daryl Janmaat may very well slot in to play against his former club.

Former Sunderland man Younes Kaboul is a doubt with a thigh problem, but it is not entirely impossible that he will make the bench. Miguel Britos, Adrian Mariappa and Christian Kabasele are likely to continue in a three-man back-line.

Marvin Zeegelaar played his first match for his new club in the win over West Ham, forcing Jose Holebas to the bench. Both men will be pushing to start the game at St James’.

Perhaps the most improved Hornets player this season, Abdoulaye Doucoure, has struck up a fine midfield partnership with Tom Cleverley and those two will definitely play at Newcastle.

Watford v West Ham United - Premier League
Abdoulaye Doucoure has been in fine form this season.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Two players that made their return to the match-day squad last weekend, defender Sebastien Prodl and playmaker Roberto Pereyra, are in contention to start the game this time out. Although, after a clean sheet and goals from Will Hughes and Richarlison, they face an uphill task to get themselves into the XI.

Nathaniel Chalobah, Craig Cathcart, Isaac Success and youngster Tommie Hoban are all long-term absentees for Watford.

Likely line-ups

Newcastle: Elliot, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo, Shelvey, Merino, Murphy, Ritchie, Joselu, Gayle

Watford: Gomes, Mariappa, Britos, Kabasele, Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Zeegelaar, Hughes, Richarlison, Gray

Score prediction: Newcastle United 2-1 Watford

The game has not been selected for Sky Sports TV coverage. You can also follow the match by tuning into BBC Radio Newcastle's live commentary, courtesy of the official NUFC website.