Fabricio Coloccini - Newcastle United News

After the customary international week off to disrupt the Premier League season, Newcastle return to top flight action on Monday evening when they travel to the capital for their first of three consecutive away games. Newly promoted big spenders QPR are the opposition and are showing signs of intent by being busy in the transfer market, desperately trying to sign bodies that will keep them in the division come May next year.

One of those faces we know well, with one Joey Barton prepared to pull on the blue and white hooped shirts for the first time against his old employers and fans that backed him through thick and thin. But times change in football and it will be interesting to see what sort of reception the former Man City man gets when he comes face to face with a few thousand passionate Geordies.

The ever-irritating Neil Warnock will be hoping to blood as many new faces in as possible, with Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jason Puncheon, Luke Young, Armand Traore and Barton all making their debuts in the out of place Championship side. Former Newcastle players Peter Ramage, Fitz Hall and Bradley Orr aren’t expected to feature, whilst Kieron Dyer is inevitably injured (cue uproar of laughter).

As for Newcastle, the feckless board have this week been fending off a series of questions from fans about the lack of spending at the club as well as the lack of spending…oh, and the lack of spending. Leon Best, fresh from his brace against Fulham last week, will presumably start up front on his own, although Demba Ba looked somewhere close to full fitness when he came off the bench last week.

Davide Santon is ready to make his debut, but the position is the tricky one. Naturally right-footed (although his left is top notch too), he would suit right-back more but Danny Simpson hasn’t done much wrong this season, whilst Ryan Taylor would be desperately unlucky to miss out given his awesome start to the season. Dan Gosling and Sylvain Marveaux should also be in the squad after recovering from injuries and lack of fitness in the past few weeks. Haris Vuckic’s participation is unconfirmed after his freak finger injury picked up against Fulham.

Hatem Ben Arfa is closing in on a return to the team after his ankle injury but isn’t expected to be in the squad tomorrow. The French international has returned to training this week and has been described by Alan Pardew as “ahead of schedule” regarding his fitness. However, we heard those same sentiments from Pards last season and never seen Ben Arfa on the pitch until pre-season.

Shola Ameobi could play some part after the hip problem that kept him out of the Fulham win has become more bearable and Rob Elliot is expected to be goalkeeping cover for Tim Krul on the bench.

A win for the Magpies could move us as high as 3rd in the league, but only if we manage to stick three or more past the R’s. A lesser win would move us up into 4th, behind the two irresistible Manchester clubs and Chelsea.