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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Key omission unlikely to clip Magpies' wings

Toon could be too strong

Dwight Gayle is Newcastle's top goalscorer this season
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Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports 1, 7.45pm Monday

Newcastle are often credited with having the strongest squad in the Sky Bet Championship and they can demonstrate their depth by beating promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday without key midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who starts a five-match suspension.

Dwight Gayle – the second tier's top scorer with 17 goals – is arguably the most important member of Newcastle’s title-chasing team but Shelvey is not far behind.

The former Liverpool player has relished the responsibility of being the main man in the Magpies midfield and has shown why he earned six England caps.

The downside to Shelvey is his temperament and it is not ideal for him to be sidelined at such an important stage of the season.

However, Shelvey's central midfield partner, Isaac Hayden, is underrated and there are plenty of options to replace Shelvey with Vurnon Anita, Cheick Tiote and Jack Colback jostling for a berth in midfield.

Any of that trio would walk into most other Championship sides and they can hold their own against Wednesday, who also have injury problems.

Owls' boss Carlos Carvalhal refused to name names but admitted 'five or six' players are struggling to be passed fit and if he is forced to select anything other than a full-strength side, it will be very tough to avoid defeat.

The big plus for Wednesday is the return of Fernando Forestieri from a three-game ban.

The livewire Argentinian will have a key role to play in helping Wednesday reach the playoffs but he may not be able to prevent a Newcastle victory.

1pt 4-6 general

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Team news

Jonjo Shelvey starts a five-match ban. Jack Colback could replace him if he has recovered from an eye injury or Vurnon Anita could move from right-back to midfield.

Sheffield Wednesday
Fernando Forestieri is available after suspension but Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal admits 'five of six' players are injury doubts. No names were mentioned.

Key stat
Newcastle have won seven of their last eight home games

There are plenty of options to replace Shelvey with Vurnon Anita, Cheick Tiote and Jack Colback jostling for a berth in midfield
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