By Coral Barry

Rafael Benitez has left Aleksandar Mitrovic on the bench in Newcastle’s crucial Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.

Papisse Cisse’s first goal since November helped the Magpies to a crucial point against Liverpool last weekend and Benitez has again opted to keep faith with the Senegalese forward.

Cisse has scored just three league goals in total this season, but is preferred to Mitrovic despite the Serb grabbing three goals in his last six apperances.

Newcastle know a victory against Palace could lift them out of the relegation zone and with just three games left to play in the season, the Magpies cannot afford to suffer any more setbacks in their bid to preserve their top flight status.

Benitez’s only change to the side that drew 2-2 with Liverpool is to recall top goalscorer Georginio Wijnaldum to the starting line-up.

Fellow relegation rivals Sunderland and Norwich City both have a game in hand over Newcastle and Benitez will know a loss to the Eagles could all but end their hopes of avoiding relegation.

To add spice to an already crucial fixture, former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew returns to St James’ Park for the first time since leaving the club for Palace last year and has selected former Magpies favourite Yohan Cabaye to face his old side.