By Emma Sanders

Matt Ritchie is expected to return in place of Christian Atsu who is likely to be dropped to the bench as Newcastle host Brentford this weekend.

The former Bournemouth winger is an experienced Championship player and though Atsu scored the winner against Rotherham in the last fixture, Ritchie is unlikely to be left out for the second game in a row.

Rob Elliot’s injury means Karl Darlow will likely start in goal again against Brentford, whilst summer signing Matz Sels remains on the bench.

Rafa Benitez is known for his tactical tinkering but with Brentford scoring 18 goals already this season, it’s likely the manager will keep Paul Dummett at left-back.

Achraf Lazaar provides a more attacking option, but after joining in the summer it’s Dummett who’s made more appearances and will be expected to add his 11th start on Saturday.

Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles have started to build a bright partnership at centre-back and continue to keep Grant Hanley and Chancel Mbemba out of the side.

They’re set to start against Brentford and their defence will be boosted by the return of Vurnon Anita. The former Fulham winger has been deployed at right-back this season and has put in some impressive performances.

Benitez likes his attacking intent and after serving a suspension picked up during the Wolverhampton Wanderers clash, he’s set to start again at the weekend.

One of Newcastle’s most impressive performers this season has been Jonjo Shelvey and he’ll be expecting another start against Brentford in midfield.

Shelvey’s likely to line-up alongside Isaac Hayden who has impressed this season, scoring a goal and grabbing an assist and he’ll probably keep Jack Colback out of the side once more.

Yoan Gouffran is another man performing well and he’ll be expected to start on the left wing but the real questions lie in the attacking line-up.

Mohamed Diame has under-performed so far this season and after failing to score in eight appearances he’s expected to be replaced by Aleksander Mitrovic.

Mitrovic has been knocking on the door for a start for some time now and after producing impressive performances for Serbia, could be given the nod.

Dwight Gayle has been excellent and proved his worth with heroics against Norwich City. He’s scored seven goals already this season and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be kept out of the side.

In other Newcastle news, Alan Shearer delivers a scathing verdict of a former Magpies player.