By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

After a week to forget in the transfer market, Newcastle United return to action on the pitch on Saturday afternoon when fellow strugglers Reading visit St James’ Park. The Royals are five points and three places below Newcastle, making the clash something of a six-pointer.

Alan Pardew hoped to have a new striker on board ahead of the game but after Loic Remy chose Loftus Road over St James’ Park, the search for attacking options continues into January’s third week.

It’s often said though that having players return from injury is like having a new signing at a club and Pardew will be relishing the prospect of having most of his key players available for selection. Jonas Gutierrez came through the Norwich game unscathed and should start again, while Yohan Cabaye is also expected to make his first start in 14 games.

Club officials are set to meet Captain Fabricio Coloccini on Monday, leaving the defender available to lead the side on Saturday. After giving the Argentine a rousing reception at Carrow Road, the Toon Army are sure to make their feelings known towards Coloccini when he steps out in front of 50,000 fans.

Hatem Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor are back in training but not expected to start, although the latter may be on the bench as he closes in on a first team return.

Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic, Dan Gosling and Danny Simpson are all injured, while Cheick Tiote is on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast. Shola Ameobi – who missed out on a chance to represent Nigeria at the same competition – has served his one match suspension for being sent off in the FA Cup and is available again.

Brian McDermott is without veteran striker Jason Roberts and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and has fitness concerns over Mikele Leigertwood and Hal Robson-Kanu.

Former Newcastle midfielder Danny Guthrie could start after settling a dispute with his club which seen him spend much of the first half of the season on the bench.

With the bottom of the table congesting more week by week, Newcastle will view this game as a must win fixture if they are to drag themselves away from the relegation zone and catch up with North-East rivals Sunderland, who are four points ahead of the Magpies.

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  1. b.robson

    everygame is a six pointer with a numpty yes man manager and an owner who gambles with my club and yes it is my club

    Reply
  2. superhoop

    Newcastle very bitter bout Remy joining us and dissing our stadium/capacity etc., BUT WHAT MAKES TOON SUCH A BIG CLUB, CERTAINLY NOT THE TROPHIES THEY AV WON IN THEIR ENTIRE EXISTANCE, ONE TROPHY AND THAT WAS WAY BACK WHEN I WAS STILL IN SHORT PANTS!!!

    U R"s

    Reply

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