By Amir Mir
Newcastle have made three changes to the side that takes on Nottingham Forest at St James’ Park on Friday night.
Midfielder Mo Diame, winger Yoan Gouffran and defender Vurnon Anita miss out, while Ayoze Perez, Christain Atsu and DeAndre Yedlin take their places in the starting XI.
Rafa Benitez’ side lost their Boxing Day encounter against Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 on home soil so they will be looking to bounce back from that damaging defeat.
Here is the club’s official Twitter account announcing the Newcastle team to face Forest.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) December 30, 2016
Striker Gayle will lead the line for the Toon Army, with Spaniard Perez just in behind, while Atsu will be looking to use his pace to cause havoc on the opposition defence.
At the back, former Tottenham man Yedlin will be looking to combine with Matt Ritchie on the right flank and ensure the away side fail to keep another clean sheet – only one in 23 games this season.
As a result of dropping points against Wednesday four days ago, the north east club lost top spot in the Championship table after Brighton beat QPR the following day.
The Seagulls, who were set to take on Neil Warnock’s Cardiff at the Amex Stadium on Friday, have seen their encounter postponed due to fog.
Therefore, a win against the Midlands giants will see Benitez’ men reclaim top spot and open up a nine-point gap on third-placed Reading.
The Magpies have won 16 of their 23 games this term, drawing once against Aston Villa and losing the other six encounters.
In other Newcastle team news, this Sky Sports pundit has predicted the outcome of the Magpies clash against Nottingham Forest.