Newcastle v Stoke – Match preview and team news

Newcastle are set to make a raft of changes from the side that secured a creditable 0-0 draw away at Anzhi Makhachkala in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday. The Magpies have improved in recent weeks to rise a full six points above the drop zone and now look unlikely candidates for the drop, particularly after the additions made to the squad by Alan Pardew in January.

Pardew hopes to welcome back Papiss Cisse after the Senegalese striker missed the trip to Russia with a virus while Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran will also return to the squad along with Davide Santon and Cheikh Tiote. Hatem Ben Arfa is also pushing for his first Premier League start since December but Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul remain absent.

Stoke’s season has hit the skids since the turn of the year with only one Premier League in the eight games played. Last week’s timid 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham saw Potters supporters criticise boss Tony Pulis for his defensive style of play and the Welshman will need a strong finish to the season to pacify any critics of his team and style.

Stoke could have Matthew Etherington available again despite his on-going back problem while striker Michael Owen is also in the squad after shaking off a thigh injury. Marc Wilson may also feature after returning from a broken leg last week against the Hammers but Robert Huth misses out again due to suspension.

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