The African Nations Cup-bound Senegal international starts a three-match ban after accepting a Football Association charge of violent conduct for elbowing Seamus Coleman during Sunday’s 3-2 Barclays Premier League victory over Everton.
Interim manager John Carver, who is in charge of the team because of Alan Pardew’s impending switch to Crystal Palace, has no fresh injury problems, with full-back Davide Santon looking to shake off a calf problem suffered on Under-21s duty and keepers Tim Krul (ankle) and Rob Elliot (thigh) and midfielders Mehdi Abeid (toe), Siem de Jong (thigh), Rolando Aarons (hamstring), Gabriel Obertan (thigh) and Ryan Taylor (knee) working their way back to fitness.
Burnley striker Sam Vokes could be in contention for the trip to the north east.
Vokes recently returned from nine months out with a hamstring injury but was rested by Clarets boss Sean Dyche for Sunday’s battling 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
Matthew Gilks is expected to pass a late fitness test after a bout of flu but Matt Taylor (Achilles), Michael Duff (calf) and Stephen Ward (ankle) are all still ruled out.