Danny Simpson - Newcastle United News

After our toughest run of fixtures to date, Saturday afternoon sees Newcastle United return to Premier League action when they travel to East Anglia to take on Norwich City. With Delia Smith and her colleagues charging a less-than-sweet £45 per ticket, it’s an expensive early Christmas present for the travelling Toon Army.

Since last week’s 3-0 humbling at the hands of seemingly resurgent Chelsea, news coming out of Tyneside hasn’t been good, with injuries stacking up in key areas, leaving Alan Pardew’s squad looking depleted and threadbare.

Steven Taylor’s season is over after he suffered ruptured Achilles tendon and his defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini will miss out with a groin injury. The Argentina international has been in superb form of late and his omission from the first-team will be a huge blow to the high-flying Magpies.

Mike Williamson would normally step into the first team at Taylor and Coloccini’s absence, but the former Portsmouth defender still hasn’t recovered from an ankle knock.

That leaves Pardew’s defensive options between James Perch, Tamas Kadar, Davide Santon and usual full-back pairing Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor. Hardly what you need when trying to build on a fantastic start to the season.

Pardew has confirmed James Perch will start at Carrow Road, leaving one space available for one of the few mentioned above. Davide Santon will be favourite to play there, having had prior experience whilst playing for Inter Milan.

Danny Guthrie is also injured, meaning Dan Gosling might get a start in centre midfield, with Alan Smith potentially returning to the bench after his Newcastle career seemingly came to a halt at the end of last season.

Newcastle’s captaincy will also need addressed, since Pardew hasn’t appointed a vice-captain and regular skipper Coloccini being injured.

As for Norwich, defenders Ritchie De Laet and Elliott Ward are missing along with James Vaughan but Zak Whitbread could return from a hamstring injury. Norwich have been impressive at home so far this season, and only Arsenal and West Brom leaving Paul Lambert’s stomping ground with all three points.

Last time the sides met, Newcastle had the likes of Patrick Kluivert and Jean-Alain Boumsong in their ranks, whilst the Canaries prevailed thanks to a late goal from the now retired Dean Ashton. How times have changed, and tomorrow could see another test of character for the depleted Geordies.