After another disappointing cup campaign came to an end at the hands of Brighton at the weekend, attention returns to Newcastle’s promising Premier League campaign, with a midweek trip to Blackburn.

It’s the fourth time the Magpies have met their struggling opponents, with Steve Kean’s side ending Newcastle’s Carling Cup run earlier in the season. However, the other two tussles have seen the Geordies emerge victorious, including the 3rd Round FA Cup tie.

Every time the two clubs meet this season, you could be forgiven for expecting that Steve Kean wouldn’t last until the next time the clubs met. The beleaguered Scot has been under fire from day one in his fledgling managerial career and tomorrow will be no exception, with Kean set to face more disgruntled fans as he tries to keep Rovers in the Premier League.

Owners Venky’s aren’t the most popular in Lancashire either, and anyone attempting to bring in any signs, slogans or other protesting propaganda tomorrow will have the items confiscated and be refused entry to Ewood Park.

With Senegal enduring a horrific African Nations Cup campaign – losing all three of their group games without finding the net – Demba Ba and new signing Papiss Cisse are now on course to return to England, with Tuesday being their predicted return date. Whether the pair will be required tomorrow remains to be seen, with the near-3000 mile flight bound to take some effect on our new strike force.

Ivory Coast are still going strong in the competition though, so Cheick Tiote’s return to Tyneside will be at least another week or two, leaving Alan Pardew slightly short of options in midfield.

Pardew’s choices were further limited yesterday when the FA  took retrospective action and decided to hit Yohan Cabaye with a three-match ban, relating to an incident in the game against Brighton when the France international appeared to kick out at a Brighton player.

The suspension leaves Newcastle with just three options in centre midfield, with Dan Gosling, Danny Guthrie and Mehdi Abeid being the only specialist playmakers in the Newcastle ranks. Ryan Taylor could fill in there, depending whether the former Wigan man is needed in his more favoured full-back role. Toon outcast Alan Smith has now joined MK Dons on a loan deal until the end of the season, ultimately providing an early end to his Newcastle career, with his contract expiring in the summer.

Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Steve Harper and Steven Taylor are all out injured for the Magpies, with Nile Ranger also injured as well as having yet more disciplinary matters to deal with. News on Fabricio Coloccini’s injury is also awaited, with no one seemingly sure what is wrong with the Newcastle skipper, some claiming a groin injury, whilst others have settled for a knee problem.

Blackburn have had a longer mid-season break than most, as they enjoyed two weeks off as a result of Newcastle knocking them out of the FA Cup. They should be fresh then, and will be boosted by the arrival of Martin Olsson’s twin brother Marcus, who joins from Swedish side Halmstads BK.

Yakubu will miss out though, as the Blackburn top scorer is still serving a suspension. However, Kean is happy to have a number of first-team players returning from injury as his side attempts to avoid the drop. Scott Dann, Paul Robinson and Martin Olsson are all back, whilst Junior Hoilett is also set to feature, unless he seals a last minute transfer away from Ewood, with this preview being published almost 12 hours before the window slams shut!

A win for Newcastle would strengthen their chase for a European place and further condemn Blackburn to staring the Championship directly in the face. If Newcastle can get the three points, it could move them up to fifth, providing Arsenal don’t claim maximum points against Bolton at the same time.