Fulham v Newcastle preview
Cottagers without injured forward, Toon missing key duo
By Jonathan Jurejko. Last Updated: 20/01/12 1:35pm
Surprise package Newcastle travel to inconsistent Fulham knowing three points will move them back into the Premier League top five.
Injuries: Fulham: Schwarzer, Grygera Newcastle: S Taylor, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)
Sky Bet odds: Fulham evens Draw 23/10 Newcastle 14/5
Bet on Saturday's match
Opta Stat: Fulham have drawn 49 games 0-0 in Premier League history.
The sixth-placed Magpies would climb above Arsenal with victory in Saturday's clash at Craven Cottage, with the Gunners not playing until they host Manchester United on Sunday.
However, they will have to try and maintain their lofty position over the next month without key midfielder Cheick Tiote and 15-goal striker Demba Ba.
The pair, two of the main driving forces behind Newcastle's impressive start, are missing as they represent Ivory Coast and Senegal respectively in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Questions have been raised over Newcastle's ability to last the pace without the duo, with boss Alan Pardew backing his other players to step up and perform in their absence.
Pardew insists they can cope and will be looking for encouraging signs when the North East club make the long trip to Fulham.
The last five matches between the two teams in West London have been won by a single-goal margin and Martin Jol's side would settle for a similar result in their favour.
A win would further increase breathing space between the 14th-placed side, who sit six points clear of the relegation zone, and third-bottom Queens Park Rangers.
Fulham have showed they have more than enough quality to avoid getting sucked into a battle for the drop with impressive home wins against Liverpool and Arsenal this term.
However, they are struggling to repeat these results on a regular basis and will have set more consistent displays as one of their New Year resolutions.
Fulham forward Moussa Dembele will miss out with a hip injury after limping off in the first half of last week's defeat by Blackburn.
Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who signed a new contract on Wednesday, is still sidelined with a spinal injury.
Newcastle boss Pardew will make a late decision on midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
The Frenchman left the pitch on a stretcher with an ankle injury after being caught by QPR midfielder Shaun Derry last weekend and remains a doubt.
Striker Peter Lovenkrands (calf) has returned to training, but central defender Steven Taylor (Achilles) and midfielders Sylvain Marveaux (groin) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) remain on the sidelines.
New signing Papiss Demba Cisse joins Tiote and Ba on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Possible starting XIs
Fulham: Stockdale, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Sidwell, Murphy, Ruiz, Dempsey, Duff, Zamora.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Gutierrez, Gosling, Guthrie, R Taylor, Best, Shola Ameobi.
Barclays Premier League
|7||West Ham United||22||36|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||22||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22||19|