By Matt Farr
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has made three changes to his side for their Championship clash with Blackburn at Ewood Park on Saturday.
Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran and Mo Diame all return to the starting line-up, with DeAndre Yedlin and Christian Atsu joining 23-year-old Ayoze Perez in moving onto the bench.
This will be both Diame and Atsu’s final involvement before jetting off to the Africa Cup of Nations, and Benitez will be hoping they make a big impact before they depart.
Newcastle revealed their line-up via the club’s official twitter account:
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 2, 2017
Jack Colback, meanwhile, continues in the absence of midfield sensation Jonjo Shelvey, who is serving the third game of his five-match suspension for racial abuse.
Ayoze Perez was handed a rare start as Newcastle took on Nottingham Forest on Friday, but the Spaniard has resumed normal duties as a substitute to accommodate the returning Diame.
There is no place in the matchday squad for Aleksandar Mitrovic, however, which raises further questions over his long-term future at St. James’ Park. Daryl Murphy is named on the bench.
The Magpies beat Nottingham Forest comfortably last time out, and will be looking for a similar performance against the Championship’s 22nd-placed side.
Blackburn have won just two of their last 10 league games, but got the better of Newcastle the last time the two sides met, and will want to make the most of their home advantage.
In other Newcastle news, Dwight Gayle has revealed what Newcastle must do to secure promotion this season.