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Newcastle Club Focus - Toon boosted by return of key players against leaderless Wolves

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By James Hedley

Friday 24 February 2012

Newcastle will be boosted by the return of a number of their key players for their home game against Wolves at the weekend. Manager Alan Pardew can now call on the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote and Ryan Taylor for the first time in several weeks. The trio could all be in line to make an instant return to the first team as the club look to bounce back from a heavy loss to Tottenham two weeks ago. Pardew believes that this is the strongest squad he has been able to call upon since the 3-0 victory over Manchester United at the start of the year.

On paper at least, Wolves appear to be ideal opponents with the Midlanders currently in a state of crisis. Since manager Mick McCarthy was sacked, they have struggled to find an adequate replacement with a number of contenders ruling themselves out of the running in the past few days. It seems likely that caretaker manager Terry Connor will remain in charge for the weekend’s game. With Wolves currently in the relegation zone, Newcastle will need to guard against complacency on Saturday.

When the two sides met earlier in the campaign Newcastle won 2-1 at Molineux with goals from Demba Ba and Jonas Gutierrez. They were also helped by some controversial decision from referee Mark Halsey, much to the annoyance of the home fans. Former Magpie Sebastien Bassong is likely to feature in the Wolves defence following his loan move in January.

Alan Pardew has sympathised with the fans who have been angered by the club’s decision to remove the St James’ Park sign from outside the stadium. Saturday’s match is the first home game since yet another unpopular decision from owner Mike Ashley. "There might be a little bit beforehand with the upset of taking the sign down, and I can understand that from a fan's point of view. But once the game kicks off, it's about that product on the pitch and I think they trust the players, they know they will get a performance out of them," Pardew is quoted as saying by Sky Sports. Another home win would keep Newcastle on course in their quest for a place in Europe next season.

According to reports in France the Magpies are closing in on the signing of midfielder Romain Amalfitano. The 22 year old currently plays for Ligue 2 outfit Stade de Reims although his contract expires in the summer.

L'Equipe reports that Newcastle have offered Amalfitano a pre-contract agreement to secure his signing in the summer. With a thriving French contingent in the north east it would be no surprise if the club were to make more signings from the country in the summer.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Newcastle v Wolverhampton

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