We are proud to bring you the Newcastle v Aston Villa Treatment Room, the latest in our regular feature where before each match, industry specialist Ben Dinnery brings you all the latest injury news ahead of the game.
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To say that this Sunday’s game against Aston Villa is massive, is not an understatement for a club in rapid decline. Not necessarily in terms of league position or status but certainly for our own belief that there is life after Cabaye and the 2013/14 campaign is not over. Our season is teetering on the edge of disaster following our hugely impressive first half, with supporters facing the threat of mid-table obscurity with nothing to play for.
Newcastle head into this match on the back of five straight home defeats (in all competitions) without a solitary goal in over 360 minutes of football, while our defence has become porous – conceding ten goals in the last three games; morale and confidence are low.
The one shining light is that things couldn’t get much worse and with the news that captain Fabricio Coloccini could return this weekend, we at least have some hope. The Argentine defender has only lost twice against Villa in his Newcastle career (W9 D2 L2) and has been working hard to give himself a chance of making an appearance.
The other promising news comes in the form of Ivorian Cheick Tiote who “has a chance” following a training ground hamstring injury, the specialist midfielder will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness on Saturday.
Given the gravity of the game I expect Alan Pardew to risk the duo in a bid to maintain daylight between us and a chasing pack, which could close the gap to within six points after today.
Sunday will also see the return of striker Loic Remy, who may feel he has something to give back to the Geordie faithful following his sending-off at Norwich. The Frenchman is our leading scorer and his importance to the side has been underlined in recent times by our lacklustre return in front of goal.
Aston Villa arguably perform better away from the pressures of Villa Park with points taken at Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton, as well three points from the SOL.
Christian Benteke represents their main threat with the Belgium back in form following a series of niggling injuries; the forward has scored three goals in his last six games.
Strike partner Gabby Agbonlahor has fully recovered from the foot injury he picked up at Anfield and the duo could potentially cause problems to any Premier League defence.
Captain Ron Vlaar is another key member of the Villains squad and has declared himself 100% fit after recent calf and hamstring issues; when the Dutchman plays Paul Lambert’s men are a completely different prospect; his fitness will be key to their survival.
‘Concrete’, as Vlaar is so aptly nicknamed, is the only defender to feature in all of Aston Villa’s six clean sheets this year.
Howay the Lads …
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