Premier League preview: Fulham v Newcastle
Newcastle United's winning chances away to Fulham on Monday could hinge on the fitness of Demba Ba, Cheick Tiote and Davide Santon.
In last week's 3-0 win over Wigan, Tiote (hamstring) and Santon (groin) were both taken off early in the second half, while Ba limped down the tunnel a few minutes before full-time with hamstring tightness, leaving Newcastle with 10 men in the closing stages.
But Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was hopeful that the injured trio will be available for Monday's trip to Fulham, particularly Ba, who scored twice in the win against Wigan, and is tied for the lead in the Premier League golden boot race.
"I think they'll all be OK," Pardew said after the Wigan match.
"Hamstring for Cheick, hamstring for Demba, a tightness, and Davide is a groin.
"I think the three we took off were kind of precautionary rather than tears and horrible scans tomorrow.
"Fingers crossed, we think they might all make Fulham."
Monday's clash will bring together two teams with some of the worst form in the Premier League with Newcastle's win last week earning them their only points in five matches, while Fulham have two draws and three defeats in the same period.
If Ba fails to play, Pardew will have to do something drastic up front as the big Senegalese striker has scored 10 of Newcastle's 17 league goals this season.
Papiss Cisse, who took England by storm in the latter half of last season, has only scored two, although in good news for Newcastle, tricky attacker Hatem Ben Arfa could play his first game since November 22 having been out with a hamstring injury.
Newcastle will head to Fulham on the back of a 2-0 loss away to Bordeaux in the Europa League, although they still advanced to the knockout stages.
Fulham manager Martin Jol will hope both Ba and Ben Arfa remain on the sidelines when Newcastle come to London as the Dutchman's defence is one of the worst in the Premier League.
Only Southampton, Wigan, Reading and Queens Park Rangers have conceded more often than Fulham so far this season with Jol's side having let in 26 goals in 15 matches.
Having lost 3-0 at home against Tottenham last week, Fulham have not won in seven games but will be hopeful if Newcastle start with a toothless attack.
The London-based club are in the top six of the Premier League for goals scored (25) although having not hit the back of the net in their past three games, since injuries to attacking midfielders Bryan Ruiz and Alexander Kacaniklic, Jol needs to instil some creativity into his starting line-up.