Tuesday 24 April 2018

Barton back for Newcastle Mensa set to face Hammers Becchio brace sinks Palace Keogh earns Cardiff point

Newcastle welcome back midfielder Joey Barton for today's Premier League trip to West Brom following the completion of his three-match ban for punching Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen.

But centre-back pairing Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson, who signed a new long-term contract yesterday, both miss the second game of their three-match bans while captain Kevin Nolan is also out with an ankle problem. Goalkeeper Steve Harper resumed training this week while Leon Best is also closing in on a return.

West Brom head coach Roberto di Matteo will check on the fitness of a quintet of players. Chris Brunt, Peter Odemwingie, James Morrison, Paul Scharner and Nicky Shorey will all be assessed.

"We are hoping that some of these players will be available," said Di Matteo.

Midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu will serve the second game of a two-match ban after his sending-off at Everton. Central defender Jonas Olsson could return to action early in the new year after encouraging news about his Achilles problem.

Mensa set to face Hammers

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will be able to call on defender John Mensah for today's Premier League clash with West Ham at the Stadium of Light.

The Ghanaian returned ahead of schedule from a dislocated shoulder at Wolves last week but was forced off eight minutes from time after receiving a blow to the joint.

Mensah's availability is particularly good news for Bruce because of long-term injuries to centre-back pair Titus Bramble and Michael Turner. Fraizer Campbell also remains on the sidelines but midfielder David Meyler is in contention for the first time this season after recovering from a serious knee injury.

West Ham captain Scott Parker is also back for the game. Parker has been struggling with a chest infection and watched the 4-0 Carling Cup victory over Manchester United in midweek from the bench.

Avram Grant must decide whether to retain Parker's goalscoring replacement against United, Jonathan Spector, while Lars Jacobsen returns.

Becchio brace sinks Palace

Luciano Becchio took his goal tally for the season to 11 as a quick-fire brace turned the game in Leeds' favour as they won 2-1 at Elland Road.

Neil Danns had opened the scoring from close range in the closing stages of the first half, but Becchio's headed equaliser in the 81st minute was followed by a well-taken second moments later as the Whites stretched their unbeaten run to seven games.

Leeds manager Simon Grayson is keen to keep hold of the Argentinian and believes he will remain part of the squad. "Luciano Becchio is a fantastic player who has proved his worth to the club in terms of his goals and the effort he puts in for the team. That is why we are doing all we can to keep him," said Grayson.

"People probably under-estimate what he does for the team."

Keogh earns Cardiff point

Andy Keogh's 94th-minute header gave Cardiff a 1-1 draw and broke the hearts of bottom side Preston, who looked set for victory having arrived in the Welsh capital with just one win in their previous 10 Championship games.

The Bluebirds salvaged a point to provide a boost to their promotion aspirations but have now won just one of their past six games.

Cardiff manager Dave Jones was quick to quell talk of dressing-room unrest.

"Everyone is pulling the same way and will go on doing that as they all want to do well," he said.

Sunday Independent

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