By Anthony Marshall
Newcastle entertain Birmingham at St. James' Park on Saturday in Premier League action, just two-and-a-half months after beating the Blues in the reverse fixture.
Alan Pardew's side will be looking to bounce back from a defeat at Liverpool last weekend, while Birmingham will take heart from a battling point against local rivals Wolves in their battle to avoid the drop.
Saturday's match is the 102nd between the two clubs and the 94th in the league. United are aiming for their second league double of the season, following on from a maximum return against West Ham. In the previous 11 Premier League encounters against the Blues, Newcastle have only lost once.
February 15, 2011 Birmingham 0 Newcastle 2 (Lovenkrands 2, Best 50)
Birmingham (4-4-2): Ben Foster; Stephen Carr, Roger Johnson, Martin Jiranek, Liam Ridgewell (David Murphy 73); David Bentley, Craig Gardner, Barry Ferguson, Sebastian Larsson (Kevin Phillips 75); Obafemi Martins (Cameron Jerome 58), Nikola Zigic
Newcastle (4-4-2): Steve Harper; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique; Joey Barton, Cheik Tiote, Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez (Sol Campbell 87); Leon Best (Danny Guthrie 75), Peter Lovenkrands (Nile Ranger 64)
FULL RECORD v BIRMINGHAM
P101 W40 D28 L33 F158 A140
(Last six games - all competitions)
Newcastle - LDDLWL
Birmingham - DLLWDW
Newcastle (v Liverpool): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique (Shane Ferguson 90); Joey Barton, Cheik Tiote, Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi (Shefki Kuqi 82), Peter Lovenkrands (Nile Ranger 73)
Not used: Steve Harper, James Tavernier, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor
Birmingham (v Wolves): Ben Foster; Stephen Carr, Roger Johnson, Martin Jiranek, Liam Ridgewell; Sebastian Larsson, Barry Ferguson, Craig Gardner, Lee Bowyer; Kevin Phillips (Jean Beausejour 31), Cameron Jerome
Not used: Colin Doyle, Stuart Parnaby, Curtis Davies, Keith Fahey, Alexander Hleb, Matt Derbyshire
Newcastle - Mike Williamson is ruled out for the rest of the season, having broken his arm in training on Thursday morning. The defender joins Stephen Ireland and James Perch on the sidelines for the remainder of the campaign, while Hatem Ben Arfa (broken leg), Dan Gosling (knee), Danny Guthrie (ankle) and Alan Smith (ankle) are all still missing through injury.
Birmingham - Ex-Newcastle front man Obafemi Martins has had surgery on a stress fracture of his left tibia and will miss the final three games of the season. He joins striker Nikola Zigic (groin), goalkeeper Maik Taylor (Shoulder), forward James McFadden (knee) and defender Scott Dann (hamstring) on the treatment table.
A WORD FROM BOTH CAMPS
Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager: "Birmingham are a side right in the scrap and that is part of their game. They don't make anything easy for you, and for us it is a very important game. We go into it on the back of Liverpool and need to put a performance in where we show we are committed in these last three games."
Alex McLeish, Birmingham manager: "There is no chance we will take our foot off the pedal. Not a chance. I don't know how many points it will take. I am asked that every single week, and I don't like to make predictions because if I don't get it right people say you were wrong about that.
"So I'll say nothing, other than we have three games left and will try to take as many points as possible. We are only looking forward now."
Chris Foy (Lancashire) - 32 games this season, 82 yellow cards, two red cards
PLAYED FOR BOTH TEAMS
Obafemi Martins, Lee Bowyer, Steven Carr, Nicky Butt, Kevin Dillon, Ray Ranson, Stewart Barrowclough
DID YOU KNOW?
Jonas Gutierrez has been fouled 74 times in the Premier League this season, and only three players have been fouled more often - Ashley Young (92), Charlie Adam (86) and Clint Dempsey (77).