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Friend to referee Friday's City clash

Kevin Friend has been confirmed as the referee for Newcastle United’s penultimate home game of the season against Manchester City on Friday night (8pm kick-off).

The Bristol-born official’s appointment for the Premier League clash was announced on Tuesday, and it will be his third visit to St. James’ Park of the campaign.

And on both previous games on Tyneside overseen by Friend this term, he has issued a red card – to Brighton’s Yves Bissouma in United 3-0 defeat in September, and to West Ham’s Craig Dawson in the Magpies’ 3-2 win last month.

The 49-year-old has been refereeing for 35 years, since he was a teenager, rising through the ranks in Leicestershire before entering the professional game’s pyramid in the 2000s. He has been a top flight official since 2009, and refereed both the 2013 League Cup final and the 2019 FA Cup final, as well as the 2012 Community Shield.

The vast majority of Friend’s appointments this year have come in the Premier League, though he has also enjoyed outings in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup.

Friday night’s contest will be his 30th fixture of the campaign so far, in which time he has issued a total of 66 yellows and three reds, including the aforementioned two in matches involving Steve Bruce’s side.

Simon Beck and Adrian Holmes will assist Friend on Friday, with Lee Mason confirmed as the fourth official.

Darren England will be in charge of VAR, and will be assisted by Harry Lennard.

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