Alan Pardew returns to the stadium this weekend as Newcastle take on Southampton at St. Mary’s.

The Newcastle boss begins his four-match touchline ban, so John Carver will again be the man in the technical area.

United and Southampton are separated by just a point in the Premier League table, making Saturday’s game almost like a playoff for eighth place in the table.

The Magpies head into the game with a fresh injury, as Tim Krul misses out with a knee injury sustained in Tuesday’s defeat to Everton. That means Rob Elliot will start in goal with teenager Jak Alnwick likely to warm the bench.

Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy are out with injury but the former will return to training over the weekend as he recovers from a calf problem. Debuchy faces another fortnight on the sidelines with a groin knock.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has injury problems too. Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez face late fitness tests after picking up knocks last time out, while with Victor Wanyama, Danny Fox and Guly Do Prado are injured. Nathaniel Clyne is doubtful.

Earlier this season when the two sides met at St James’ Park, Rodriguez’s goal earned Southampton a point. Yoan Gouffran scored the opener for Newcastle that day but remains out of form as Saturday’s game approaches. The former Bordeaux winger has not scored a goal since the turn of the year.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Alan Pardew will be watching from the stands this weekend, as the two benches clashed on Tyneside in the last game, following a crude tackle on Massadio Haidara by Schneiderlin.

Despite being a point behind Newcastle in the table, Saints have a +5 goal difference as opposed to Newcastle’s -5. Most of that is down to their trio of English attacking talent, with Rodriguez, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana all in great form. A win for either side tomorrow would make them odds-on favourite to finish in eighth place and have an outside chance of catching the top six.