Newcastle United begin their 2015/16 Premier League season with an untelevised home game against Southampton on Sunday.

Steve McClaren’s first game in charge could certainly have been easier, given the fact the Saints have already kicked off their season as they look to qualify for the Europa League. Ronald Koeman’s side brushed aside talented Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem in the third qualifying round and now must overcome FC Midtjylland in the playoff round for a group stage place.

All three of Newcastle’s first-team new signings are available for selection, with Georginio Wijnaldum a certain starter in midfield. Newcastle’s new number five may be the only new name to feature on the starting team sheet though, with Chancel Mbemba unlikely to start and Aleksandar Mitrovic fighting with Papiss Cisse for the lone striker role. The Magpies will play a 4-2-3-1 system, with Wijnaldum likely occupying the number 10 role.

Club Captain Fabricio Coloccini will take his place in defence after weeks of speculation about his future were ended by the Argentine signing a one-year extension to his contract at St James’ Park.


Newcastle will definitely be without Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere, Cheick Tiote and Paul Dummett. The foursome are all absentees but are all training again, meaning they should be available by the end of the month.

Mehdi Abeid’s future remains uncertain and the Algerian is likely to miss out of the matchday squad, while Shane Ferguson, Adam Armstrong and Freddie Woodman have all departed on loan to Millwall, Coventry and Crawley respectively.

Ivan Toney completed his move to SJP from Northampton Town on Thursday but will be involved with the under 21 side when they face Wolves on Saturday.

As for Southampton, former Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster will be out for the first part of the season with a serious knee injury, so on-loan Fulham ‘keeper Maarten Stekelenburg will make his Premier League debut for the Saints.

Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand and Gaston Ramirez will also miss out, while there are doubts over new signing Jordy Clasie and Shane Long.

However, the most bizarre injury comes from Koeman himself, who has undergone surgery on an Achilles injury picked up training with his side earlier this week. His place on the touchline will be taken by older brother Erwin which is a shame because we were all looking forward to seeing who has the best Dutch accent, McClaren or Koeman Jr.


Historically, this fixture favours the home side (probably down to the 332 miles between the two grounds), but Southampton left the North East with the points last season thanks to a Eljero Elia brace.

With 11 goals in the last three meetings between the two sides at St James’ Park, the smart money is on both teams finding the net. Yoan Gouffran has scored against the Saints in the last two meetings between the sides but on both occasions Newcastle failed to win, with the Frenchman’s goal coming in a 1-2 defeat and a 1-1 draw.

Southampton usually struggle on the opening day of the Premier League season, the Saints have won just one of their last eight first-day games and just two from 16 attempts.

By contrast, Newcastle have won seven of their 21 attempts and three from their last eight.