Sky Sports pundit predicts Newcastle v Nottingham Forest
By Matt Farr
Sky Sports pundit David Prutton has backed Newcastle to bounce back against Nottingham Forest on Friday.
The Magpies fell to defeat against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day, which allowed Brighton to take their place at the top of the Championship.
Forest are on a disappointing run in the Championship, having suffered three defeats and a draw since the victory over Newcastle. They are currently 18th, but could slip to 20th with a bad result.
As for Newcastle, while they still hold a six point lead over third-placed Reading, but Brighton could go five points clear of Rafa Benitez’s side if they don’t take full advantage against Forest.
They suffered defeat to Nottingham Forest the last time the two sides met, but Prutton is confident that Newcastle will capitalise on Forest’s poor run of form and finish 2016 with a win.
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“I think we will see a reaction,” he wrote on the Sky Sports website. “I think Forest have been inconsistent enough for Newcastle to fancy themselves at home even though Sheffield Wednesday went up there and did a job on them.
“With Newcastle seeing how Brighton are doing and how closely fought it is at the top, this is a game they could, should and will win.
“They cannot be surprised that teams come to St. James’ Park and give it a good go. We’ve seen the likes of Wednesday and Blackburn get points there and I’m not saying it is beyond the realms of possibility for Forest to go there and get a result. They have shown they can thrown a spanner in the works.
“Of course, the Magpies need to go back up. If it’s as champions, then it’s happy days but I think they want the guarantee of just going up so they need to be at the top and keep an eye on who is behind them. After a kick up the backside against Wednesday, they should get back to normal service here.”
Rafa Benitez has almost a full squad available for the tie, but Jesus Gamez and Rolando Aarons are both still nursing long-term injuries.
Newcastle have a prolific goalscorer in Dwight Gayle, who has 17 goals and four assists from 21 appearances in all competitions, and the 26-year-old is currently the league’s top scorer.
He has scored just once in three matches since his superb hat-trick in the victory over Birmingham on December 10, but is expected find the back of the net for Newcastle against Forest.
Jonjo Shelvey is once again absent, meanwhile, as he serves a five-match ban for racial abuse. Jack Colback took his place in midfield last time out, and could be called upon once more.
In other Newcastle news, the Magpies are leading the race to sign this much-coveted Premier League midfielder.