JOE Kinnear is forced to make three changes to the side which lost at Wigan on Boxing Day for the visit of league leaders Liverpool.
Habib Beye (leg), Mark Viduka (groin) and Sebastien Bassong (suspension) are all missing, as expected, but Jose Enrique is fit for the game, which is a nice surprise, with David Edgar and Steven Taylor coming into the side.
This is big game for David Edgar at right back, and much will depend on how the 21 year-old plays today, but in the past he’s done well when given the chance. Usually he has a shaky start so the lads will need to support David early in the game.
We’re a little surprised that Geremi didn’t get the start at right back, and it seems that the Cameroon international will move on next month.
That means a back four of Edgar, Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Enrique, so that’s a very young back four, and Charles N’Zogbia, Nicky Butt, Jonas Gutierrez and Danny Guthrie, playing against his former club, form a more than decent four-man midfield.
Duff will partner Michael Owen up front with Andy Carroll, Xisco and Ameobi all on the bench.
Newcastle captain Michael Owen will be making his first appearance against his former club at St. James’ Park.
On the bench, promising Hungarian center-back Tamas Kadar, an Under-21 international, is included for the first time while Shola Ameobi returns from a short hamstring lay-off, which is good news.
This is the game when Newcastle fans celebrate the magnificent career and life of our very own Sir Bobby Robson, and with Ashley saying he will keep the club, a win will make things very rosy in the Newcastle garden, come 2:00 pm this afternoon.
Howay The Lads!!
Newcastle United: Shay Given, David Edgar, Jose Enrique, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Nicky Butt, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez, Charles N’Zogbia, Damien Duff, Michael Owen (c)
Subs: Steve Harper, Geremi, Xisco, Shola Ameobi, Tamas Kadar, Andy Carroll, Kazenga LuaLua
Liverpool: Jose Reina, Sami Hyypia, Daniel Agger, Steven Gerrard (c), Yossi Benayoun, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, Emiliano Insua, Jamie Carragher
Subs: Diego Cavalieri, Robbie Keane, Albert Riera, Xabi Alonso, David Ngog, Nabil El Zhar, Martin Skrtel
Referee: Mark Halsey