By Amir Mir

Newcastle have made three changes to their starting XI as they take on Derby County in a crucial Championship clash at St James’ Park.

Rafa Benitez’ side drew their last game against league strugglers QPR on home soil on Wednesday night.

Now, the Spaniard has opted to bring in Grant Hanley, Mo Diame and Aleksander Mitrovic for the afternoon game.

As a result, senior ace Jamaal Lascelles, Ayoze Perez and striker Daryl Murphy have been axed from the previous game.

Here is the club’s official Twitter account announcing the Newcastle starting XI which takes on the Rams.

The Magpies have the chance to go top of the table if they pick up at least a point in the Saturday fixture.

Current league leaders Brighton lost 3-1 at promotion rivals Huddersfield on Thursday and don’t play their next encounter against Brentford until Sunday.

Nonetheless, the Toon Army faithful will be hoping their team can beat their former manager Steve McClaren.

The former England boss was sacked as the Magpies manager at the back end of the last campaign with many fans blaming him for their relegation from the Premier League.

Spaniard Benitez replaced him in the dugout at St James’ Park but he couldn’t do enough to save them.

Now, McClaren is in charge of a Derby team that is sitting just outside the play-off places knowing a win would see them return into the top six.

In other Newcastle team news, this midfielder has delivered his verdict after agreeing terms with the club.

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