Newcastle v Brighton preview: Rob Elliot out for hosts, Izzy Brown back for Seagulls
Last Updated: 30/12/17 1:59pm
Rafa Benitez is set to make changes as his Newcastle side prepare to swap their stifling approach for a more attacking one against Brighton on Saturday.
Benitez left a string of previous starters on the bench in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City but Matt Ritchie, Mikel Merino and Christian Atsu could all return to the starting XI for a game Benitez deems more winnable.
The Spaniard told reporters: "We'll try to score goals and play at the level we did at West Ham.
"These are the games where people expect us to compete and to win, so my concern is to approach the games with the belief that we can win."
Brighton head to Newcastle on Saturday on a run of just one win in their last nine matches and while their hosts' defensive display in midweek drew criticism from some quarters, Seagulls boss Chris Hughton knows the threat his old employers can pose.
"Newcastle are a team we know very well, we know they have a lot of quality," Hughton said.
"They haven't had the best of times of late but we know on a good day for them they can be a fairly formidable team, they have enough quality to make them very dangerous opponents."
While Benitez may shuffle his pack further up the pitch, he will be forced into one change, goalkeeper Rob Elliot (thigh) set to be replaced by Karl Darlow.
Midfielder Isaac Hayden is available after shaking off the knock which has kept him out of the last two games, but full-back Jesus Gamez (ankle), central defender Florian Lejeune (foot) and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic (back) are still sidelined.
Izzy Brown returns to the Brighton squad for the trip to Newcastle.
The on-loan Chelsea forward was ineligible to face his parent club in Albion's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.
Boss Chris Hughton has a full-strength squad with the exception of long-term absentee Steve Sidwell, who is still recovering from a back problem.
- This is only the second top-flight league meeting between these two clubs and the first to be played in Newcastle
- The Magpies won both Championship meetings with Brighton last season, including a 2-0 win at St James' Park thanks to goals from Jamal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey
- Brighton have won four of their last six meetings with Newcastle in all competitions (L2), though their only away win in that time was in March 1992 (1-0)
Brighton have rested a couple of key players over Christmas, which I don't have a problem with. They've picked their games, which you have to do.
But I think Newcastle's home advantage will tell here. They were negative against City for 60 minutes but it will be completely and utterly different on Saturday. They didn't need the Man City game, and could have done with playing Brighton first!
Will Brighton stay up? I think they need to score a few more goals at home, I have seen them at home the last couple weeks and could have easily been out of sight in both of their games [against Burnley and Watford], but finished with four points.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (8/1 with Sky Bet)