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Cardiff City v Newcastle United - A chance to put pressure on the league leaders

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Promotion is secured for Newcastle, but now they have to focus on winning their final two games, starting on Friday night against Cardiff. 

Newcastle United v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship
Christian Atsu will be pushing for a permanent contract at Newcastle.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Cardiff goalkeeper Allan McGregor was absent at Wigan because of illness, but has trained this week and is set to return to the Bluebird's line up. Ben Amos will return to the substitute bench.

The back four will probably remain unchanged, with Bruno Ecuele Manga and captain Sean Morrison (who has contributed to twelve goals this season) the centre-half pairing.

Peter Whittingham could also return, so he is able to make his last home appearance for the team he has served for ten and a half seasons. The 32-year-old midfielder is out of contract this summer and will leave the club.

Cardiff City v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship
Peter Whittingham has been a great servant for Cardiff over the years.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

If Whittingham does not receive his home stand-off, Kadeem Harris will be the one to continue in the starting line-up.

Kenneth Zohore is fit after being rested at Wigan. The former Fiorentina man is their top-scorer this season and is a shoe-in to start up front.

Neil Warnock has the likes of Junior Hoilett, Craig Noone and Anthony Pilkington as wide options. Hoilett was left on the bench last time out, but after failing to score at Wigan, it is likely he will start.

Rafa Benitez has today revealed that he will be without six first team players.

Jamaal Lascelles and Vurnon Anita (who has been playing through the pain barrier lately) will all miss out with slight niggles after a long grueling season.

Fellow defenders Grant Hanley and Jesús Gámez are also out, meaning that Chancel Mbemba will partner Ciaran Clark in the heart of defence and Achraf Lazaar may return to the fold.

Rolando Aarons may have a slight chance of making his first appearance for the club since August. He will be hoping his injury problems are finally behind him.

More crucially, Newcastle will also be without Matt Ritchie, who has been excellent this season. It has emerged via George Caulkin of the Times, that the winger has been suspended for the final two games after abusing the fourth official in the aftermath of the Leeds draw.

Newcastle United v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship
Matt Ritchie will not play in either of the final two games of the season.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Christian Atsu will therefore be given another start to prove himself and hopefully earn a permanent contract. The Ghanaian winger has impressed in spells, but it remains to be seen if he has done enough in Benitez's eyes.

Dwight Gayle who is yet to recover from his hamstring injury, will not feature, but may play during the final game of the season.

Aleksandar Mitrović has admitted this week that he will seek talks with the club, as well as his father and brother, before deciding upon his immediate future. The big Serbian may find himself on the bench once more, with Daryl Murphy in line to be restored to the XI.

Cardiff: McGregor, Connolly, Morrison, Manga, Bennett, Gunnarsson, Hoilett, Whittingham, Ralls, Pilkington, Zohore,

Newcastle: Elliot, Yedlin, Mbemba, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Colback, Atsu, Diamé, Gouffran, Murphy

Score prediction: Cardiff City 1-2 Newcastle United

The match has been selected for Sky Sports coverage. You can also follow by tuning into BBC Radio Newcastle's live match commentary, courtesy of the official NUFC website.