18 year-old Gael Bigirimana has been handed his first Premier League start this afternoon at Reading, and he is preferred to Vurnon Anita in central midfield, with Vurnon on the bench. We expect Gael to be given the role of attacking midfielder alongside Cheick Tiote.
That’s the big surprise this afternoon, as we had expected Vurnon Anita to have started in Yohan’s position, and James Perch retains his right back spot in the continued absence of Danny Simpson.
Steve Harper returns in goal and as expected Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor are the center-backs with Fab Coloccini rested to recover fully from his hamstring strain.
Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse start up front so this is an important game for Gael, who joined us from Coventry City in the summer for just £1M, and has made a fantastic start to his Newcastle career.
Gael Bigirimana – gets first start in the Premier League this afternoon
When Gael has started he’s looked very good in a black and white shirt and we have to think he’s been very impressive in training to be preferred to Vurnon Anita today.
We’re also a bit surprised that Vurnon didn’t get a start at right-back but he’s very likely to be brought on in the second half this afternoon, and it’s important that Newcastle pick up all 3 points this afternoon at the Madejski Stadium.
For Reading, Newcastle January target Adrian Mariappa makes his league debut at center-back for the Royals this afternoon.
We need the win today.
Howay The Lads!!
Reading -McCarthy, Cummings, Shorey, Mariappa, Gorkss, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff, Kebe, Hunt, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Gunter, Pearce, Guthrie, McCleary, Le Fondre, Roberts
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Steve Harper; James Perch, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Gael Bigirimana, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez (c); Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse
Substitutes: Rob Elliot, James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi