Newcastle v Aston Villa

Newcastle will be in fine spirits when they welcome the Premier League's bottom club, Aston Villa, to St James' Park on Saturday.

Magpies boss Steve McClaren has been under pressure for much of the season after making a poor start to his reign on Tyneside, winning just one of his opening 10 games at the helm.

However, results have picked up of late with the Toon winning three of their of their last five matches, including back-to-back victories over Liverpool and Tottenham most recently.

That run has lifted McClaren's side out of the relegation zone and up to 15th place, a full 10 points clear of rock-bottom Villa, who are still winless under new manager Remi Garde.

The Frenchman kicked off his reign with a goalless draw against Manchester City, but a 2-0 loss to Arsenal last time out extended his winless streak to five outings.

The Villans' only win of the season came on the opening day when they beat newcomers Bournemouth 1-0, leaving them without a win in their last 15 league encounters.

In team news, the hosts are still missing a whole host of players through injury, although Mike Williamson and Jamaal Lascelles (both hamstring) are a couple of weeks away from making their returns.

Cheick Tiote has a slight chance to make the matchday squad as he looks to shake off a groin injury, but Steven Taylor (hamstring) and  Emmanuel Riviere (knee) are only expected back in the New Year again.

Garde has a nearly fully-fit squad to choose from with just Jordan Amavi (knee ligaments) and Gary Gardner (ankle) on the treatment table, although the duo are not likely to return in the near future.

Villa captain Micah Richards is a major doubt for the visitors with a knee injury which has ruled him out for their last two games.

Comments