An excellent return to the Sky Bet Championship finishes this weekend for the Reds.
Barnsley will be looking to end Newcastle’s title hopes as the curtain comes down on an impressive first season back in the Championship.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side could finish as high as 12th if they win in the North East and results go their way elsewhere.
If the Reds do secure all three points it would be the Club’s 10th victory on the road this season and a first win at St. James’ Park since September 1982 would be a fitting end to a solid campaign.
Rafa Benitez’s side will have other ideas however, with Newcastle desperate to pip Brighton to the Championship title.
The Toon Army sit a point behind the Seagulls who travel to Aston Villa, and with promotion already secured for both, this would be the icing on the cake.
Benitez’s men have won 14 of their 22 league games at St. James’ Park this season and they will be eager to make that 15 on Sunday as they attempt to better Brighton’s result at Villa Park.
The Reds will be keen to end the Club’s 11-match winless streak against Newcastle on Sunday.
Barnsley’s last win in this fixture came all the way back in December 1992, with two draws and nine wins for the Toon Army since then.
The most recent of those victories came when the two sides met earlier this season, with a second-half double from Dwight Gayle securing all three points for Rafa Benitez’s side.
This weekend’s game will be the first between the Clubs at St. James’ Park since March 2010, with the Reds going down 6-1 on that occasion after braces from both Peter Lovenkrands and Danny Guthrie.
In total the Reds have won 11 of the 42 meetings between the sides, with Newcastle winning 19 and the other 12 ending as draws.
Paul Heckingbottom will be without captain Marc Roberts once again due to an ankle injury.
The centre-half joins Andy Yiadom (shoulder), Aidy White (pelvis) and Sessi D’Almeida (knee) in the treatment room.
Adam Jackson will continue to deputise in Roberts’ absence, while Alex Mowatt, Ryan Williams and Ryan Hedges will all be pushing for starts but Adam Armstrong is ineligible to play against his parent Club.
Newcastle are also missing a key figure in their defence with skipper Jamaal Lascelles recovering from a groin operation.
Vurnon Anita, Grant Hanley and Jesus Gamez are unlikely to return in time for the visit of the Reds, while Dwight Gayle is still out with a hamstring injury and Matt Ritchie is suspended.
Man in the Middle
James Linington will take charge of a Barnsley game for the third time this season and the Reds will be hoping for more of the same in his company.
That is because Paul Heckingbottom’s side have won both of their previous meetings with the Newport-based official this term; beating both Brentford and Nottingham Forest under his watch.
In total, Linington has overseen six Barnsley games, with the Reds winning three and losing three.
Hosts Newcastle have also met with Linington on two previous occasions this season, with the referee watching over the Toon Army’s 2-0 win at Derby in September as well as their 3-1 home defeat against Fulham in March.
They are two of 34 games which he has overseen in total this term; handing out 145 yellow cards but just four reds.
Their Star Man
With both Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie ruled out due to injury and suspension respectively, Newcastle will be looking towards Mo Diame to help the Club clinch the Championship title.
The powerful midfielder’s arrival at St. James’ Park raised more than a few eyebrows last August, with the Senegal international leaving Hull - who had just won promotion to the Premier League - to join Rafael Benitez’s new-look outfit.
After playing a starring role for the Toon Army this season however and with Hull in a desperate scrap to avoid relegation, the 29-year-old will feel his decision has been more than justified.
Although he has only netted six and assisted three for Benitez’s side this term, Diame’s energy, as well as his ability to link midfield and attack have been key to Newcastle’s success.
The French born midfield maestro has already proved he can cut it in the top flight with Wigan, West Ham and Hull and he will be determined to put in another big performance on Sunday to ensure his new side enters the Premier League as champions.
In August 2004 Barnsley completed the signing of striker Michael Chopra on loan from Sunday’s hosts Newcastle.
Following similar spells with Watford and Nottingham Forest, the front man joined the Reds in League One; making 42 appearances and scoring 17 times.
Unfortunately those goals could only help Barnsley to a mid-table finish but it was a fine personal campaign for the Newcastle-born striker which included hat-tricks against both Peterborough and Huddersfield.
On the back of that move, Chopra appeared 20 times for the Toon Army in the 2005-06 season which saw him net the Club’s first in a stunning 4-1 win at Sunderland.
That was one of just three goals he scored for his boyhood Club however in 31 games and in June 2006 he was released by the Toon Army.
The former England youth international has since enjoyed spells with Cardiff, Sunderland, Ipswich, Blackpool and Alloa but now plays his football in India with the Kerala Blasters, as well as being an analyst for Indian sports network Ten Sports.
Barnsley’s last five away from home: (LLWLL)
QPR 2-1 Barnsley
Norwich 2-0 Barnsley
Blackburn 0-2 Barnsley
Wigan 3-2 Barnsley
Bristol City 3-2 Barnsley
Newcastle’s last five at home: (LWWDW)
Newcastle 1-3 Fulham
Newcastle 2-1 Wigan
Newcastle 1-0 Burton Albion
Newcastle 1-1 Leeds United
Newcastle 4-1 Preston North End
Going to the match?
Newcastle plays at St. James’ Park, its address is as follows:
St. James’ Park
Newcastle upon Tyne
How to get there
Given the Club’s city centre location, there are no unreserved public car parks on event days at St. James’ Park.
Instead, Newcastle recommends using public transport to reach the stadium. If you do need to use your car, use the postcode ‘NE1 4ST’ in your sat-nav. There are a number of public car parks signposted clearly on arrival in Newcastle city centre, though be warned – they are likely to be extremely busy on matchdays!
Park and Ride
To make visiting even easier, Newcastle operates a park and ride system from sites close to the A1 motorway – the main motorway link to Newcastle from all directions.
There are two great locations to park and ride – from Newcastle Great Park (just west of the A1, north of Newcastle close to the Racecourse) and the Soccerbus service from the MetroCentre; one of Europe’s biggest shopping centres. Both locations are signposted from the A1. Please visit www.altoonativetravel. com/park-and-ride for further information.
Newcastle Central Station is around a ten minute walk from St. James’ Park. Situated on the East Coast Mainline, it is a principle stop for services between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow. In addition to regional services to Middlesbrough and Carlisle, it also offers direct cross-country routes to and from Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool Birmingham and Bristol.
To walk to St. James’ Park, cross the road from the station and walk up Pink Lane (to the right of Subway), passing the Forth Hotel public house.
Turn right onto Clayton Street, then left onto Westgate Road. Outside Tilleys Bar, bear right onto Bath Lane and after 200 metres, turn right onto Stowell Street (Chinatown) and continue until the ground becomes visible beyond the Chinatown arch.
Tickets for the match are SOLD OUT.