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Newcastle United v Stoke City – Three in a row?

Rafa Benitez returns to the sidelines this week, to watch his side take on a Stoke City team full of confidence after recent results.

Swansea City v Newcastle United - Premier League
Jamaal Lascelles provided the winning goal in Newcastle's last match.
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

The best news for Magpies supporters is that their beloved manager Rafa Benitez has recovered from his post-op difficulties, and will retake his seat at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.

In terms of players, the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and Florian Lejeune will be hoping to start, after the pair returned to the match-day squad against Swansea. Javier Manquillo will be looking over his shoulder with the United States international expected to recapture the right-back berth. However, Lejeune may have to wait longer before being reinstated into the XI. Given the magnificent performances by Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles last weekend, the Frenchman will likely have to start the game from the bench.

Another defender, Chancel Mbemba, who picked up an injury on international duty, may well be ready to play some part. There were initial fears that the Congolese centre-back could be out for up to three months, but those fears were eased by Paco Moreno last week. Jesus Gamez would still remain the most likely option at left-back.

Swansea City v Newcastle United - Premier League
Gamez put in an excellent display on his Premier League debut.
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Jonjo Shelvey played for the U-21 team in midweek, as they drew 2-2 with Norwich City, and he will be desperately hoping that he is back on the team-sheet this time out. He was an unused substitute at his former club, and with Mikel Merino really catching the eye, it could well be that Shelvey again has to settle for a place on the bench.

Jacob Murphy made his first start for Newcastle in South-Wales, but Christian Atsu is probably the more likely to start on the left flank this weekend. Matt Ritchie will obviously start on the opposite side.

Aleksandar Mitrovic will serve the second of his three-game suspension, so Joselu is in line to start against his former employers. Dwight Gayle is also available after coming off the bench against the Swans.

Stoke are set to be without their captain Ryan Shawcross, who is expected to miss out with the back problem that prevented him playing against Manchester United last weekend.

Geoff Cameron is also out of the game because of a hamstring problem picked up in that stalemate against Manchester United.

Bruno Martins Indi, Kevin Wimmer and Kurt Zouma are therefore likely play together in a three-man defence.

Erik Pieters and Mame Diouf have been deployed in the wing-back roles in recent games. That is set to be the case again on Saturday.

Joe Allen will once again be partnered by Darren Fletcher in the heart of the midfield. The pair have been impressive during the opening few weeks of the season.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, fresh off of scoring a brace, is expected to lead the line again. He will be supported by the tricky Xherdan Shaqiri and Jesé Rodriguez, who is on loan from Paris-Saint Germain.

Stoke City v Manchester United - Premier League
Choupo-Moting is definitely one to watch.
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Ibrahim Afellay and former Newcastle loanee Stephen Ireland are long-term absentees for the Potters.

Likely line-ups

Newcastle: Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Gamez, Hayden, Merino, Ritchie, Ayoze, Atsu, Joselu

Stoke: Butland, Zouma, Martins-Indi, Wimmer, Diouf, Allen, Fletcher, Pieters, Shaqiri, Jesé, Choupo-Moting

Score prediction: Newcastle United 2-1 Stoke City

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