Premier League preview: Newcastle v Everton

Injuries and players returning from injury could play significant roles in determining the outcome of this mid-table battle.

Newcastle United, in ninth place, are expected to receive a double boost on Saturday with the return of striker Shola Ameobi from a cheekbone fracture while Stephen Ireland is poised to make his long-awaited debut after recovering from a knee injury.

Ameobi is likely to wear a protective face mask after he flew to America to see a specialist.

He returned to full-contact training on Tuesday and has been trying to get comfortable with his new headgear.

“Shola has trained with the rest of the group for the first time and so has Stephen Ireland, but we’ll not make a final decision on whether they are able to play some part against Everton until Thursday,” manager Alan Pardew said.

“The guy who has designed the mask has done so loads of times before with basketball players and that is a far more risky sport when it comes to elbows in the face and injuries like this. But Shola still had to try it out, he’s done that now and it would be great to have him involved at the weekend.”

Amoebi suffered the injury when he was caught by the arm of Steve Sidwell in the 1-0 away loss to Fulham on February 3.

Midfielder Ireland joined Newcastle from Aston Villa on loan in the January transfer window but has not played since December 6 because of a knee injury but Pardew is keen for the 24-year-old to join on a full-time basis.

Newcastle will be without midfielder Ryan Taylor for three matches who was sent off in the 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers.

It has been a tough week for Everton manager David Moyes and the prospects for the remainder of the season look gloomy.

Everton were knocked out of the FA Cup 1-0 by Reading on Tuesday but it is the injuries to Belgian international midfielder Marouane Fellaini and leading goalscorer Tim Cahill which has rocked the Toffees even more.

Fellaini will miss the rest of the season after undergoing ankle surgery while Cahill will miss three weeks with a foot injury.

Despite wins over Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Cup and a 2-0 win over Sunderland in the league, Everton are far from safe with only six points separating them in 11th place from cellar dwellers Wigan.

They have only won twice away in the league this season, a worrying statistic for Moyes’ men as the season enters its final two months.

Everton face daunting away games at Wigan, West Brom and Manchester City and home clashes against Manchester United and Chelsea as they battle to stave off relegation.

Article title: Premier League preview: Newcastle v Everton

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