By Danny Wright
Newcastle have made three changes to their squad to face Barnsley at St. James’ Park on Sunday in what will be the final game of their Championship season.
Rafa Benitez has opted to axe Ciaran Clark, 27, from the team that beat Cardiff 2-0 last week as well as Daryl Murphy and Mohamed Diame.
The Magpies confirmed the news on their official Twitter account prior to kick-off.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 7, 2017
Yoan Gouffran, Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrovic have all returned to the starting XI while club top goal scorer Dwight Gayle returns to the bench.
Newcastle know that winning the Championship title is not in their hands as they would have to rely on Brighton getting a worse result at Aston Villa.
Benitez’s side, who have already guaranteed their promotion, are a point behind the south coast club but have a better goal difference, meaning that even a draw would be good enough to secure a fourth second-tier title if Villa grab a win.
Neither Barnsley nor Villa have anything to play for though in their last game, as both sides are destined for mid-table finishes.
The Tykes have not won at St. James’ Park since 1982 and have lost eight since.
However Paul Heckingbottom’s side will be looking to make history by winning their tenth away game of the campaign – something which they’ve never achieved in their history of second-tier football.
Newcastle’s home record has been a worry though this season, something which Brighton boss Chris Hughton has pointed out, while Barnsley have been one of the better teams on the road.
In other Newcastle news, Rob Elliot has pointed out which players need to worry about their future at the North-East club.