EPL Preview: Newcastle v Liverpool

Newcastle fans will hope any announcement on the club’s new manager does not detract from the on-field performance against Liverpool on Saturday.Newcastle v Liverpool

Both clubs have endured intense managerial speculation this season but for Newcastle it came to a head on Monday when Chris Hughton was sacked.

The Magpies want to unveil their new manager at St James’ Park before the late kick-off, with former Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol, Alan Pardew and Alan Curbishley all linked to the vacancy.

Hughton was sacked after five games without a win and how the players handle his departure will be interesting with Peter Beardsley stepping into the breach as caretaker.

Since beating arch rivals Sunderland 5-1 at the end of October, the Magpies have conceded 11 goals and scored five, all from striker Andy Carroll.

Newcastle are languishing in 12th place in the league with 19 points, three behind Liverpool.

Captain Kevin Nolan is likely to remain sidelined with an ankle problem, while first-choice goalkeeper Steve Harper has resumed training after overcoming a shoulder injury.

Leon Best, who is suffering from an ankle strain, is close to making his return.

However, Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling and Hatem Ben Arfa remain long-term absentees.

Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson recently signed long-term contracts with the club but are out serving the last of three-match bans.

Liverpool, meanwhile, can welcome back Fernando Torres at St James’ Park.

Torres missed Monday’s emphatic 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Anfield after he was called away as his wife had gone into labour with the couple’s second child.

Goals from Ryan Babel and David Ngog in the first half and Maxi Rodriguez in the second earned Liverpool their fourth consecutive victory at Anfield.

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina has also become the fastest man in club history to reach 100 clean sheets in the league.

The Spaniard achieved the feat in his 198th game to take the record from Ray Clemence who reached his ton in 217 matches.

Manager Roy Hodgson hopes captain Steven Gerrard will return after a torn hamstring but Jamie Carragher has been ruled out until March as he recovers from surgery on a dislocated shoulder.

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