Newcastle v Aston Villa preview
Newcastle welcome Premier League football back to St James' Park when Aston Villa visit on Sunday.
Last Updated: 21/08/10 11:05pm
Newcastle welcome Premier League football back to St James' Park when Aston Villa visit the North East on Sunday.
Chris Hughton's team were given the thankless task of facing Manchester United in their opening clash and were comfortably beaten 3-0 on Monday night.
But the Magpies took heart from the defeat after creating a handful of chances which they were unable to take.
Striker Andy Carroll led the line on Monday and Hughton is certain to retain faith in the 21-year-old to unlock Villa afer his exploits last term.
Villa's efforts in the Europa League can only add to the hosts' cause, who will look to capitalise on any signs of tiredness in their opponents ranks.
Caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald took his side to Austria to take on Rapid Vienna on Thursday and they earned a credible 1-1 draw.
The Midlands outfit are still without a full-time appointment at the helm following Martin O'Neill's departure and MacDonald has not been ruled out as a potential successor.
The Scot did his chances no harm by opening his team's campaign with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over West Ham last Saturday.
Hughton is waiting on the fitness of injured pair Danny Guthrie (knee) and Peter Lovenkrands (groin).
The duo were forced to watch their team's loss at Old Trafford from the stands after picking up minor knocks in the build up to the clash and are expected to return this weekend.
Dan Gosling (knee) remains a long-term absentee, while Steven Taylor (shoulder) is not expected to return until October.
Villa are likely to hand a debut to midfielder Stephen Ireland, who arrived from Manchester City this week.
Ireland joins the Villa Park club as part of the deal for departed midfielder James Milner and the new recruit is in line to make his bow.
MacDonald could making sweeping changes to the team that drew with Rapid Vienna with central defender Richard Dunne returning after suspension, and goalkeeper Brad Friedel, midfielder Stiliyan Petrov, full-back Luke Young and winger Ashley Young are all primed to come back into the fold.
John Carew (knee) could hand MacDonald a boost by returning to action, but Gabriel Agbonlahor (hamstring), midfielder Steve Sidwell (Achilles) and central defenders James Collins (calf) and Carlos Cuellar (hamstring) are recovering.
Possible starting XIs:
Newcastle: Harper, Coloccini, Williamson, Perch, Enrique, Barton, Smith, Gutierrez, Nolan, Carroll, Routledge.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Warnock, Dunne, Davies, L Young, Petrov, Ireland, Downing, A Young, Carew, Heskey.