Newcastle welcome relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Wednesday as they look to build upon their first win back from lockdown on Sunday as they dispatched of Sheffield United 3-0 at St James Park.
For Dean Smith’s Villa this will be their third game back from the enforced break, however, a 0-0 draw with the Blades and a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea has left the Midlands club desperately fighting for Premier League survival.
When and where?
The match will take place at St James Park on Wednesday 24th June with kick-off at 6pm.
This fixture has plenty of history and it will be the 165th meeting in all competitions between the two sides. The Toon have been more successful with 71 wins from the meetings so far and in more recent times the Toon have only lost once in their last 13 fixtures, however, that defeat was in their last meeting when Villa beat Newcastle 2-0 at Villa Park in November.
The last fixture between the two sides at St James Park took place in February 2017 when both sides were in the Championship. On that day a goal from Yoan Gouffran and a Henri Lansbury own goal secured the points for the Black and White army.
Newcastle were without both Sean Longstaff and Matty Longstaff for the win over Sheffield United, and both remain doubtful for this match.
The brothers are Bruce's only injury concerns, though, with an otherwise clean bill of health after the first game back.
Aston Villa do not have such luck, with Bjorn Engels and Frederic Guilbert joining long-term absentees Wesley and Tom Heaton on the sidelines.
Loanee Danny Drinkwater is closing in on a return to training after injury, but Wednesday's match is likely to come too soon for him to feature.
Last five matches
(W) 3-0 vs Sheffield United
(W) 3-2 vs West Brom (FA Cup)
(W) 1-0 vs Southampton
(D) 0-0 vs Burnley
(L) 0-1 vs Crystal Palace
Questions continue to surround the managerial position of Steve Bruce amid takeover talks with a Saudi Arabian consortium, however, the experienced manager is doing himself no harm in keeping his job after suffering just one defeat in their last five games which has seen the Toon rise to 12th in the league and a FA Cup quarter-final up next after Villa.
(L) 1-2 vs Chelsea
(D) 0-0 vs Sheffield United
(L) 0-4 vs Leicester City
(L) 1-2 vs Man City (League Cup Final)
(L) 0-2 vs Southampton
It has been a miserable return to the Premier League for Villa, led by lifelong fan Dean Smith. Their previous five games have seen them collect just one point, however a spirited display against Man City in the League cup final would have given Villa fans hope they can still avoid the dreaded drop.
With Newcastle all but certain of Premier League football next season there is a worry that they could take their foot off the gas and let their season come to a dull finish, however their dominant display against Sheffield United would suggest otherwise. Villa look out of sorts, but they have every reason to fight for their Premier League lives with the bottom five so congested.
It will be a close encounter and Villa will earn a point from their trip North to keep their hopes of survival alive.
Match Preview written by Ryan Day.