Newcastle v Wigan preview & team news

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Updated: October 21, 2011

Newcastle will continue their unbeaten start to the season if they can see off the challenge of Roberto Martinez’s 19th placed Wigan on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off.

Newcastle have got off to a brilliant start this season, remaining unbeaten in their opening eight games and sitting 4th in the Premier League, just three points behind Chelsea.

Wigan haven’t had the same luck and their slack defending has left them just one place above bottom-placed Blackburn Rovers, only topping Steve Kean’s side by one goal on goal difference.

Alan Pardew looks set to stick with the team that drew with Tottenham in last Sunday’s 2-2 thriller at St James’ Park where a late Shola Ameobi strike secured a point for the Magpies.

Fabricio Coloccini will be fit to captain the side after recovering from a minor toe injury while Slovenian midfielder Haris Vuckic is also available again following a broken hand.

Forgotten man Alan Smith returns to the squad after being kept out with a hamstring injury.

Defender Mike Williamson is still out despite recovering from surgery on a broken arm, the 27 year-old Englishman is still hampered with an ankle injury and will sit this game out.

Leon Best will retain his place up front despite criticism from international coach Giovanni Trapattoni this week saying his work rate is the reason he doesn’t get picked for the Republic of Ireland.

Pardew brushed off the Italian managers complaints in defence of his player and with three goals this season for the Magpies, Best is certainly no slouch.

Wigan have no injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game and the return of Hugo Rodallega could prove vital in their hopes of surviving this season, with the big Colombian striker expected to start against Newcastle after coming on as a substitute against Bolton last weekend following a knee injury.

Maynor Figueroa is likely to return to his left back position after last week’s 3-1 defeat to Wigan saw Steve Gohouri replaced at half time following a poor 45 minutes.

There were doubts over how well Newcastle could perform this season when they sold a trio of their most high profile players, Joey Barton, Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, but Pardew has invested wisely without spending big.

The acquisition of the likes of French midfielder Yohan Cabaye and striker Demba Ba coupled with the excellent performances of midfield powerhouse Cheick Tiote and the return of Hatem Ben Arfa after a long injury means Newcastle look like a very decent Premier League outfit.

Wigan on the other hand have struggled so far this season with just one win this season followed by five consecutive losses; it looks like it will be a tough fight for Martinez’s side to be anywhere above 18th place come May.

Newcastle squad: Krul, Elliot, Harper, Simpson, R. Taylor, Santon, Ferguson, Coloccini, S. Taylor, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Obertan, Gosling, Guthrie, Ben Arfa, Abeid, Vuckic, Smith, Ba, Best, Shola Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Sammy Ameobi.

Wigan squad: Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Watson, Diame, Moses, Gomez, McCarthy, Di Santo, Jones, Pollitt, Stam, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Lopez, Thomas, Sammon, Maloney, Crusat, Gohouri.

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