After kicking off their Europa League campaign with an uninspiring 0-0 draw on the island of Madeira, it’s back to Tyneside this weekend as Newcastle United host Norwich City. The game will see Chris Hughton return to St James’ Park for the first time since being ruthlessly fired by Toon chairman Mike Ashley.

Hughton will undoubtedly receive an amazing reception when he appears at his former stomping ground, although it will be business as usual when the teams pit their wits against each other. Newcastle were comfortably in mid-table when the axe fell on Hughton’s neck, although the man who has replaced him hasn’t done too badly since taking over. Alan Pardew will look to keep his side’s unbeaten home record intact tomorrow, after the Magpies claimed maximum points against Tottenham on the opening day, before rescuing a draw against Aston Villa a fortnight ago.

It’s another case of squad rotation for the home side, after Pardew made seven changes for the draw against Maritimo on Thursday. All the big guns are expected to be back, with the exception of Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul, who are both injured. Cheick Tiote could play some part after returning to training this week. Full back also remains an area of problem for Newcastle, with Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor both out, meaning James Perch and Davide Santon are the only options.

All the other big names should be back though, with Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa all fully fit after being rested in Europe. Pardew must make the decision regarding which one of his Senegalese strikers he plays up front, with Ba reportedly unhappy that he was axed for the Everton game. He is the favourite to lead the line, with Cisse likely to drop to the bench if Pardew chooses a one-man front line. Quite whether the same headlines come out regarding Cisse dropping to the bench should he do so are unlikely to appear in Monday’s newspapers.

Chris Hughton will have to cope without Elliott Bennett and Steven Whittaker, but other than that the Canaries manager will have a strong squad to choose from. Anthony Pilkington may also play after overcoming a groin problem.

Norwich are still looking for their first win of the season, after three draws and a damaging defeat on opening day against Fulham. Their main problem has been scoring goals, as they have only found the net twice in four games so far. They could do with finding their scoring boots soon, as they have Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal in upcoming weeks.

It will be an emotional afternoon as Hughton returns to the place where he was so well received, although it is business time on the pitch and both teams have clear aims in mind, as Norwich try to build a platform for survival, while Newcastle aim to reach the heights of last season once again.
By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson