MAPOU Yanga-Mbiwa is on standby to face Manchester City new boy Jesus Navas tonight.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is likely to be without left-back Davide Santon for the season-opener at Etihad Stadium – Santon is short of fitness because of a minor hip problem.
And versatile defender Yanga-Mbiwa and former Academy player Paul Dummett are vying to line up against City’s latest dangerman.
The more experienced Yanga-Mbiwa could get the nod over Dummett – yet to make his Premier League debut – and face pacy winger Navas, who joined the club from Sevilla this summer.
“Davide is struggling. He has a slight hip flexor strain, and we think he needs more work,” Pardew said.
Pardew rates Spain international Navas highly, and he knows stopping the £15million City debutant will be key to Newcastle’s chances of getting a result at Eastlands, where the Magpies have never won a game in nine attempts.
He added: “Navas, in my opinion, is probably the best signing of the summer. He’s a little bit special.”
Meanwhile, winger Jonas Gutierrez is expected to be available after a thigh injury.
Pardew is adamant Newcastle can match City tonight, even though new manager Manuel Pellegrini has spent £88m more than him this summer!
Newcastle have lost their last seven matches against City, with Pardew having presided over the last five.
Despite City’s £90m investment under Pellegrini – the Magpies have spent just £2m on a loan fee for injured forward Loic Remy – Pardew is hopeful that run of losses can end.
“If you look at all of the top teams since I’ve been here, we’ve beaten them all – apart from Man City,” Pardew said. “So maybe I’m due.”
Newcastle lost 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium in March, and 3-1 the previous season.
“We haven’t played well at their stadium at the Etihad – there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “We have played well in patches there, but you have to put it together for 90 minutes to get a result against them.
“They are one of those teams, and with the quality they’ve got after spending £90m, they can unlock you when you are just thinking you’re doing well. It’s how you react to that.”
Pardew has been working on his team’s “psychology” ahead of the game, which is likely to see City’s new signings – Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic – make their debuts. “It’s important that we have a really good psychology,” he said. “Through long periods of the game they might dominate, but we must always carry a threat. If we can do that, we have a chance.”
While there is negativity among fans given Newcastle’s lack of summer investment, midfielder Moussa Sissoko, 24, insists there is positivity in the dressing room.
“We’re looking forward to the game,” he said. “When you play a game against Manchester City, the emotion you feel is excitement. It’s a big game, and they have big players. All we should be thinking of is to play well.
“It’s possible that we can win.”