After an encouraging result in Russia on Thursday night, Newcastle United return to domestic action when they take on Stoke City at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Ahead of the second leg against Anzhi Makhachkala in four days time, Alan Pardew must again balance his squad and ensure his troops are ready to do battle on two fronts.

Since returning from Eastern Europe, it has emerged that Hatem Ben Arfa – who was expected to start against the Potters – has sustained a dead leg and will miss out, further frustrating the Newcastle fans that have waited so long to see the talented Frenchman in action.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will continue in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, who has been ruled out for up to seven weeks with two broken bones in his back. The former Montpellier defender will once again partner Steven Taylor, who was a substitute for the game against Anzhi.

Davide Santon and Jonas Gutierrez both stayed in England and rested while their teammates earned a draw in Russia, so they are both expected to return to the starting line-up.

Papiss Cisse should return to the squad after an unspecified illness and depending on his health, could start ahead of Shola Ameobi. The Newcastle veteran didn’t start against Anzhi because of fears he may damage his knees on the artificial surface, but is ready to lead the line on the grass at St James’ Park if required.

Stoke are missing defensive lynchpin Robert Huth through suspension after the German picked up a three match ban for smashing Philippe Senderos with an elbow. Michael Owen could also be involved, assuming he doesn’t have splinters in his rear after warming the bench for almost the entire season.

Tony Pulis’ side are in terrible form of late, only winning one of their last 12 games and, like Newcastle, have only won once away from home all season. Add to the fact that they are the lowest scorers away from home in the league and Newcastle will be eyeing the game as a real chance to get the three points that they need to virtually guarantee Premier League survival.

If the Geordies win by two goals they could leapfrog Stoke and go above them in the table, potentially going as high as 11th.

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  1. andy sklllen

    I’m a stoke fan who is frustrated at the WAY my team set up and play away from home that’s why we have an awful away record pulis is so negative and we are a very poor side Newcastle WIL win 3.0


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