By Will Butcher

Newcastle could have potentially dropped a starting line-up hint after placing bit-part defender Ciaran Clark on the cover of their match programme.

The Toon face high flying Brentford on Saturday, as they eye the top spot in the Championship and former Aston Villa defender Clark could be given the nod ahead of the likes of Grant Hanley, Chancel Mbemba and captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Newcastle’s official Twitter account revealed that the 27-year-old was on the cover of Saturday’s match programme, despite featuring in just six of the Toon’s 11 Championship fixtures this season.

Clark is just one of many players that are being used as part of Rafa Benitez’s favoured rotation policy at St. James’ Park, with Hanley and Mbemba also being given chances to partner captain Lascelles at the heart of the defence.

Following his move from Midlands giants Villa, Clark has made seven appearances in all competitions but has been played out of position at left back on occasions.

However, the Republic of Ireland international could be handed a start against Dean Smith’s Brentford after impressing during his country’s international break.

Martin O’Neill’s side picked up six points with wins against Georgia and Moldova, with Clark playing an integral role alongside Shane Duffy.

A win for Benitez’s side could see them move on top of the Championship pile, if league leaders Huddersfield and Alex Neil’s Norwich drop points.

In other Newcastle team news, this striker could also be in line for a start after Benitez spoke highly of him.