Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has chosen to give Mehdi Abeid his Premier League debut after naming the midfielder in the side to face Liverpool in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Abeid, who spent last season on loan with Panathinaikos, impressed during the 2-0 League Cup victory over Manchester City on Wednesday, and has been rewarded with his first league start in the visit of the Reds to St James’ Park.
Moussa Sissoko returns as one of five changes as Tim Krul, Steven Taylor, Papiss Cisse and Sammy Ameobi all come back into the side with Newcastle looking to register a fourth straight victory – and a third consecutive win in the league.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers reinstates striker Mario Balotelli to the starting line-up in place of Rickie Lambert as the Italian desperately seeks to register his first Premier League goal since joining the Reds in the summer.
Liverpool injury list
Liverpool injury list
1/5 Adam Lallana
Replaced against Manchester United after picking up a groin problem, missed the game against Arsenal and is unlikely to return against Blackburn.
2/5 Jordan Ibe
The promising youngster has been out with a knee injury but returned to light training last month.
3/5 Brad Jones
A thigh injury forced the goalkeeper off on Boxing Day last year with no return date set.
4/5 Jon Flanagan
Hurt during pre-season, the defender is still yet to feature this season. Training is becoming more intensive for the 22-year-old and he played a small cameo in the Steven Gerrard charity game at Anfield.
5/5 Mario Balotelli
Missed the game against Arsenal but could be fit against Blackburn after training with the first team.
Balotelli came off the bench to score in the mid-week cup win over Swansea with a late equaliser paving the way for Dejan Lovren’s last-gasp winner, and he is one of eight changes made by Rodgers as he seeks to get his side firing following a draw last time out in the league against Hull.
Steven Gerrard returns to lead the side on the same day that reports emerged suggesting the club will over him a new contract at the end of the season, and he is joined in the midfield by Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Joe Allen with Jordan Henderson retaining his place in the side.
In defence, Glen Johnson and Lovren are retained with Martin Skrtel and Alberto Moreno coming in for Kolo Toure and Javier Manquillo, and Simon Mignolet returns in goal after he was rested for the win over the Swans.
Newcastle: Krul; Janmaat, S.Taylor, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Abeid, Colback; Obertan, Cisse, Ameobi
Subs: Elliot, Haidara, R.Taylor, Aarons, Cabella, Gouffran, Perez
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Moreno, Lovren, Skrtel; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson; Coutinho, Sterling, Balotelli
Subs: Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Lallana, Can, Lambert, BoriniReuse content