Newcastle V Man City at St James' Park : Match Preview

18 April 2016
Newcastle V Man City - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez hopes City have one eye on Champions League

Rafael Benitez has put Newcastle on red alert to take advantage if Manchester City allow themselves to be distracted by their forthcoming Champions League showdown with Real Madrid.

City travel to St James' Park for a rescheduled Barclays Premier League clash with the Magpies and then entertain Stoke on Saturday before the Spanish aristocrats arrive at the Etihad Stadium next week for the first leg of their European semi-final showdown.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini has already had to contend with the circus surrounding the impending arrival of successor Pep Guardiola, and Benitez is hoping the Chilean's players have other things on their minds as Newcastle look to drag themselves out of the drop zone.

He said: "I'm sure Pellegrini will try to do that (keep them focused), but in the back of your head, you are thinking the semi-final is massive, to be in the final and have the opportunity to win the final, so imagine if you pick up an injury or have any problem, so I think the players will be thinking about that - hopefully, a lot of them.

"But they are professionals and will try to win. They are in a good position now in the Premier League and they will want to stay higher. But in the back of their head, for sure, will be the doubt that if they pick up an injury, they cannot play in the semi-final or final."

Newcastle rekindled their hopes of avoiding the drop with a 3-0 victory over Swansea on Saturday, but they know that was only a start with three points still separating them from safety with five games remaining.

Benitez said: "The main thing is that if we believe, like we did from the first minute to the last against Swansea, then we can beat anyone."

Defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Daryl Janmaat will miss out for Newcastle.

Skipper Coloccini is yet to recover from the calf injury which has sidelined him since February, while Janmaat will sit out with groin and hand problems.

Full-back Kevin Mbabu is close to a return from a long-standing thigh problem, but goalkeepers Tim Krul and Rob Elliot (both knee) and defenders Steven Taylor (muscle strain) and Massadio Haidara (knee) are still out.

Manchester City pair Vincent Kompany and Raheem Sterling are poised to return against Newcastle.

City captain Kompany has been included in the squad after a month on the sidelines with the latest in a long line of calf-related problems.

England forward Sterling is also back in contention after missing five games since suffering a groin injury in the derby loss to Manchester United on March 20.

Kompany's influence on the City team is significant but manager Pellegrini has not had to rush him back with the previously erratic Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi finally finding some consistent form.

Pellegrini said: "I am very happy with the way they are playing now, both of them, and Vincent will also be an important help for our defence.

"I always say if we are fighting for important things it is because we have a very good squad.

"Sterling is just coming from an important muscle injury and we will see tomorrow if he can play some minutes. It depends how he returns from the injury."

City beat Chelsea 3-0 on Saturday to move third but have not yet secured a place in next season's Champions League and Pellegrini has warned nothing can be taken for granted at Newcastle.

He said: "They're very dangerous. It is hard to believe they are in that position. They have very good players and it is always difficult to play at St James' Park.

"I hope we can continue playing the same way we did last Saturday, being an aggressive team and trying to win from the beginning.

"If we continue playing that way it doesn't matter against who we play but we know we have a difficult game. They need all the points to try not to be relegated."

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