The African Cup of Nations is now becoming clearer where Newcastle United are concerned.
This weekend sees all three (four if you include out on loan Henri Saivet) Newcastle players in quarter-final action.
Mohamed Diame (and Saivet) plays in the first last eight match on Saturday for Senegal, then it is Mbemba v Atsu (DR Congo v Ghana) on Sunday.
So at least one of the Newcastle trio should be available to head home after the weekend and guessing that for NUFC fans the preference for selfish reasons would be Christian Atsu, as Chancel Mbemba has been frozen out of the team in recent times.
Whichever Newcastle player(s) survive the quarter finals then play on Thursday, as the winners of the two quarter-final games involving the United players will face each other.
After the FA Cup game at Oxford on Saturday, Newcastle then face QPR on Wed 1 Feb and Derby on Sat 4 Feb, so hopefully Rafa Benitez will have at least one or two extra players available for the visit of Steve McClaren and then everybody ready to face Wolves away on Sat 11 February. Whether anybody knocked out in the quarter-finals would be back in time for QPR remains to be seen.
Sat 28 January Burkina Faso v Tunisia (QF1)
Sat 28 January Senegal v Cameroon (QF2)
Sun 29 January DR Congo v Ghana (QF3)
Sun 29 January Egypt v Morocco (QF4)
Wed 1 February Semi-final (winners of QF1 v QF4)
Thur 2 February Semi-final (winners of QF2 v QF3)
Sat 4 February Third place play-off
Sun 5 February The Final
(Newcastle United’s current upcoming schedule below)
Saturday 28 January – Oxford v Newcastle (3pm)
Wednesday 1 February – Newcastle v QPR (7.45pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 4 February – Newcastle v Derby (3pm)
Saturday 11 February – Wolves v Newcastle (5.30pm) – SKY SPORTS
Tuesday 14 February – Norwich v Newcastle (7.45pm)
Monday 20 February – Newcastle v Aston Villa (8pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 25 February – Newcastle v Bristol City (3pm)
Tuesday 28 February – Brighton v Newcastle (7.45pm) – SKY SPORTS
Saturday 4 March – Huddersfield v Newcastle (5.30pm) – SKY SPORTS
Tuesday 7 March – Reading v Newcastle (7.45pm)
Saturday 11 March – Newcastle v Fulham (3pm)
Saturday 18 March – Birmingham v Newcastle (3pm)