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Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United

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On the back of a disappointing display in front of the home support, Newcastle are back on the road again on Tuesday night in the biggest game of the season. 

Newacaslte United v Brighton & Hove Albion: Sky Bet Championship
Jonjo Shelvey celebrates his outstanding free-kick against Brighton earlier in the season.
Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

The home side will be boosted by the news that Sebastien Pocognoli will be available despite being taken off in the 3-0 win over Reading.

They will however, be without fellow full-back Gaetan Bong because of a knee injury and Liam Rosenior who has an ankle problem.

Connor Goldson has also been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to him being found to have a significant heart problem.

The obvious danger man comes in the form of French winger, and former Newcastle target, Anthony Knockaert. He has bagged himself 11 goals and added 7 assists to go with them. He will be tasked with supplying a likely front two of Glenn Murray and Sam Baldock.

Brighton will probably remain unchanged, which would mean that Steve Sidwell will partner Dale Stephens in the centre of midfield.

David Stockdale will be protected by a central defensive partnership that has been an excellent foundation for the Seagulls over the course of the campaign. Shane Duffy began the season in laughable fashion at Blackburn, but has now become one of the division's best defenders alongside Lewis Dunk.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship
Lewis Dunk challenges for a ball in the air.
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Newcastle will again be without striker Dwight Gayle, after Rafa Benitez confirmed he is not yet ready for competitive action. Aleksandar Mitrovic did not really take his chance, so it would not be a surprise to see Daryl Murphy chosen to stand in.

Apart from Rolando Aarons, who is back in training, the manager has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from. Vurnon Anita was on the bench at the weekend and is available.

There were some players that come under fire after the game against Bristol City, most notably goalkeeper Karl Darlow. After his blunder at Norwich, the lapse in communication between him and Paul Dummett (which led to Newcastle conceding a second goal) is the last thing he would have wanted. Some have called for him to be replaced by Rob Elliot, just like Darlow himself replaced Matz Sels earlier in the season.

Dummett himself also has his critics and may well find himself being usurped from the line up if performances do not improve. Jesus Gamez and Achraf Lazaar are both on standby awaiting their chance.

Mo Diame is likely to slot back into the attacking midfield role, but Christian Atsu may well miss out despite impressing on Saturday.

It really is a game that Benitez himself will know cannot be lost. Defeat will leave the Magpies four points behind Brighton and the fixtures do not get any easier. The threat facing Newcastle is that Chris Hughton may find himself getting the last laugh after being unceremoniously sacked back in 2010.

Likely line ups

Brighton: Stockdale, Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Pocognoli, Stephens, Sidwell, Knoackaert, Murphy, Murray, Baldock

Newcastle: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Colback, Ritchie, Diame, Gouffran, Murphy

Score prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Newcastle United

The match will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports. You can also follow it by tuning into BBC Radio Newcastle’s live match commentary, courtesy of the official NUFC website.