Newcastle Club Focus – West Brom next in Magpies quest for Europe

Newcastle travel to the Midlands to face West Brom at the weekend with only nine games remaining in their quest for a Europa League place. Their hopes took an unexpected twist in midweek when Liverpool somehow managed to throw away a two goal lead to lose against QPR. As a result the five point gap between the two teams was maintained. In the Magpies’ previous game against Norwich they were far from their best but still came away with three points in a home win. Alan Pardew knows that his side will need to perform much better against an improving West Brom team.

Roy Hodgson’s side currently sit 13th in the table and are out of contention for both the relegation places and the European places. They have been playing well of late although they were slightly fortunate to come away from Wigan with a draw in their previous game. When the two club’s met earlier in the season West Brom won in the north east in a thrilling 3-2 result. The Midlanders posses a lot of pace in attacking areas which has at times been Newcastle’s Achilles’ heel this season.

Newcastle could be boosted by the return of Cheik Tiote on Sunday after the influential midfielder returned to training this week. The African missed the Norwich game with a thigh injury which resulted in Pardew fielding an experimental line-up. Tiote has had something of a stop-start season as the Ivorian has suffered from a series of niggling injuries. He remains one of the club’s key players and when fit is one of the first names on the team sheet. The likes of Ryan Taylor, Leon Best and Sylvain Marveaux remain on the injured list although the trio are closing on a return.

Newcastle striker Nile Ranger has joined Sheffiled Wednesday on loan until the end of the season. As the BBC report, the controversial young striker is facing a succession of court cases in the coming months and was arrested on Monday night for breaching his bail conditions. The 20 year old has yet to play for the Magpies this campaign and appears to have little future on Tyneside under the current managerial regime. Earlier this season he joined Barnsley on a loan deal, which was quickly cut short when he picked up an injury. His move to League One promotion hopefuls Wednesday could be one of his final chances to get his fledgling career back on track.

Newcastle and local rivals Sunderland have both been fined for their players’ behaviour in a fractious north east derby. The two clubs both accepted misconduct charges with the Magpies fined £40,000 for their actions. This fine was double that of their neighbours as it was the second time this season Newcastle have been charged for failing to control their players. However it appears no action will be taken for the angry scenes at the end of the club’s defeat to Arsenal two weeks ago.

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

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