By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

After stopping the rot by beating Wigan last time out night, Newcastle United look to make it consecutive Monday night wins when they travel to the capital to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage. In the middle of the two domestic games, Newcastle had a miserable trip to France to deal with and came back from Bordeaux with nothing, but did manage to rest their top players ahead of the clash with the Cottagers.

That means the likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon and Demba Ba will return to the first team and look to propel Newcastle closer to the top half of the table. Fulham – like Wigan were last week – are level on points with the Geordies and harbour hopes of crashing the top ten party sooner rather than later.

There could also be some involvement for Hatem Ben Arfa after a hamstring injury has kept the former Marseille winger sidelined for three weeks. Without the French schemer, Newcastle have looked bereft of creativity and cutting edge, so any pitch time Ben Arfa can manage would help his team no end as they look to find some much needed form.

Cheick Tiote is fit to start despite being substituted at half-time in the Wigan game and is only one booking away from a one match ban. The odds on him picking up another yellow card between now and the game against Everton in January cannot be long!

Fulham are without Bryan Ruiz for the game tonight, as the Costa Rican misses out with a hamstring problem. The former FC Twente playmaker almost joined Newcastle before picking London as his preferred destination but will miss out until the New Year with his current problem.

However, Martin Jol has been boosted by the availability of Brede Hangeland, who has completed his three-match suspension and will come back into the home defence. Former mackem Kieran Richardson is also available and Alex Kaciniklic – one of Fulham’s breakthrough players this season – could be involved too.

After starting the season well, Fulham are winless in their last seven games and haven’t scored in their last three. Dimitar Berbatov is the stand-out man since arriving from Manchester United in the summer and could be key if Fulham are to stop their current poor form.

Both teams are locked on 17 points and could move up to 12th in the table should they win. The bottom half is becoming tighter by the week and Messrs Jol and Pardew will be hoping they can begin to find some much-needed points as the hectic Christmas period kicks in.