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Europa game could cost Saints rivals
Newcastle keeper Tim Krul is a doubt for tomorrow’s game with Saints.
The Holland international suffered an ankle injury in the Europa League clash at Metalist Kharkiand and hobbled away from the Metalist Stadium on crutches, but manager Alan Pardew is hopeful that he can retain his place in the team despite putting Rob Elliot on alert.
Midfielder Cheick Tiote could return after missing the 1-0 win in Ukraine through illness, full-back Mathieu Debuchy and striker Yoan Gouffran, who are ineligible in Europe, are available once again, while Davide Santon is back in training after an ankle problem.
Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) will not be rushed back after 10 weeks on the sidelines.
Victory at for Newcastle St James’ would cement a great week for the Magpies, although Thursday night’s match-winner could find himself cast in the role of frustrated bystander for part of the afternoon at least.
Striker Shola Ameobi, pictured right, calmly stroked home the 64th-minute penalty which ensured Newcastle’s progression, but is likely to be among the substitutes once again on Sunday with Frenchman Yoan Gouffran, who is ineligible in Europe, ready to resume after recovering from a badly-gashed shin.
Ameobi said: “It is difficult for me. When you try to establish yourself in the team, you play one week, then have three out. “That’s difficult for anybody and I am no exception.
“It is hard to find your form. I just do the best I can when I am given my chance.
“But it’s important to know that it is not about me – it is about the team. That always comes first.
“The manager has a big decision every week on who to play and who to leave out.
“Unfortunately I have been the one left out the most this season, but every time he asks me to do a job, I will grab it with both hands.”
Ameobi did not show a flicker of emotion as he waited to make his decisive intervention amid a hostile atmosphere at the Metalist Stadium, ten years to the week after former boss Sir Bobby Robson heaped praise on a player he described as his “lanky Bambi” after watching him score a Champions League double at Bayer Leverkusen.
The 31-year-old said: “People ask me this, but it is a free shot at goal. You are nervous, but it was a chance.
“But there was no doubt going through my mind. Fortunately, I have never missed one. “The confidence has always been there – it always will be. It is a matter of applying myself.”
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