Kevin Keegan will have Turkish midfielder Emre returns from suspension and Mark Viduka is also set to return after wins the battle against his latest calf injury that sat him out from Keegan’s recent games.
Joey Barton who was introduced as a second-half substitute at Arsenal on Tuesday will again be available while the returning home Africa Cup of Nations duo Habib Beye and Abdoulaye Faye will possibly still be missing.
In his pre-match press conference, King Kev hinted that the former Man City midfielder could start his first match in Toon Black-and-Whites since Newcastle’s 2-2 home draw with Derby County last year.
“There is a chance Joey might start against Middlesbrough,” said Keegan, “He did very well when he came on against Arsenal, with regard to his situation, it may be self-inflicted, but we are where we are with Joey.”
Keegan explained, the changes in his bail conditions allowing him to play a role at Newcastle and we have a chance to see more of him in the next Toon fixtures.
“Joey knows what he can and cannot do now. And it is a good chance for him to get back on the field.” Keegan added more, “It gives him the chance to get mentally prepared again for games. He is fit and raring to go.”
Keegan also explained his reasons for allowing David Rozehnal to join the Italian side Lazio on loan until the end of the season. David’s temporary switch to the Serie A outfit is to get the first-team opportunities in his preferred position of centre-back.
Keegan said that the imminent return of Senegal pair Habib Beye and Abdoulaye Faye had made the Czech defender’s move possible.
“He wanted to play in his position of centre-half and that is probably a position we are well off in.” Keegan said, “Plus we have Habib Beye and Abdoulaye Faye coming back after they were knocked out of the Africa Nations and they are two players who can play in that position.”
Meanwhile, the visitor side will have to wait for their new Brazilian striker Alfonso Alves international clearance to complete on Thursday to get the chance for a debut at St.James’ Park.
Mike Dean, who also in charge of Newcastle 2-2 draw at Riverside in August 2007 will be the official again on Sunday’s 1.30pm kick off at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle United and Boro Premiership Meetings:
2005/06: 2-2 Solano, Clark
2003/04: 2-1 Bellamy, Shearer
2002/03: 2-0 Ameobi, Steve Caldwell
2001/02: 3-0 Speed, Shearer, Bernard
2000/01: 1-2 Cort
1999/00: 2-1 Shearer (2)
1998/99: 1-1 Shearer
1996/97: 3-1 Beardsley (2), Lee
1995/96: 1-0 Ferdinand