Newcastle expected 4-2-3-1 to face Wigan: 26-year-old returns in two changes
By Danny Wright
Newcastle are expected to make two changes to their starting line-up for their trip to Wigan on Saturday.
Rafa Benitez is likely to have Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey available with the pair getting back to full fitness during the two-week international break.
Gayle has struggled with a hamstring injury for the past few weeks and his form has suffered as a result.
The striker, who has 21 goals this season, has only scored once since January after first picking up his injury.
Daryl Murphy started in the last game against Birmingham but he is likely to miss the clash with Wigan after he pulled out of the Republic of Ireland squad with injury.
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Aleksandar Mitrovic could be in contention to start after scoring on international duty with Serbia, but Benitez would prefer to lead the line with Gayle.
Shelvey started on the bench in the goalless draw with the Blues before the two-week break after he missed out following a bout of flu.
The ex-Liverpool midfielder should come back into the side to replace Mohamed Diame, who deputised in his place last time out.
Karl Darlow is set to retain his place in goal while an unchanged back line of Paul Dummet, Grant Hanley, Jamaal Lascalles and Vurnon Anita should start in front of him.
Jack Colback is set to line up alongside Shelvey in the centre of the midfield behind Ayoze Perez who is expected to fill in the No. 10 role behind Gayle.
The 26-year-old will likely be supported by Yoan Gouffran and Matt Ritchie on either flank.
Newcastle could lose their grip on the Championship summit this weekend if results go against them.
Second-placed Brighton, who are just a point behind the Magpies, have what should be a straightforward home match against relegation-threatened Blackburn.
There are just eight matches left of the season for Newcastle and a win at the DW Stadium will go a long way to securing an instant return to the Premier League.
In other Newcastle news, Lee Charnley has held talks in China ahead of a possible big-money deal.