Norwich City-Newcastle United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)

Norwich manager Chris Hughton will return to his former club Newcastle United on Saturday, when the two meet at St James' Park.

Hughton's first managerial role was at Newcastle, where he lasted just over a year before being sacked - a decision that was extremely unpopular with the fans. Were it not for a 3-1 win over West Ham before the international break, Hughton would have travelled to the north-east under huge pressure, but those three points proved a welcome relief after a difficult start to the campaign for Norwich (3-2-6).

The Canaries spent relatively heavily over the summer, but have taken time to gel in their new system - conceding 21 goals in 11 games and scoring just nine. However, Hughton is confident that the squad is beginning to come together.

"When you're on the back of a win, and you've got a little bit of momentum, then of course they are the times that you're very much looking forward to the next game," he said. "It's certainly a better feel going into the international break on the back of a win though. If you've lost that game, that two weeks can become a very long two weeks.

"Newcastle are in good form at the moment, but they have been beaten at home," continued Hughton. "You have to try and look for all the positives that you can. It's a wonderful stadium to go to, and if their team are doing well, their fans can drive them on. I would want every single one of my players to look forward to going there."

Alan Pardew's Newcastle (5-2-4) will be buoyed by the part that their French contingent played in Les Bleus' recent World Cup play-off comeback against Ukraine. The Magpies have been inconsistent so far this season, but won back-to-back games before the international break, and will now have the extra motivation of needing strong performances to secure World Cup squad places for Brazil next summer.

"Our guys are really pleased," said Pardew of his French contingent - who have also scored 17 of Newcastle's 18 goals so far this season. "Now it's about focusing on an important game for their club.

"It's great for them, they can look forward to the draw and the World Cup. But for us, Norwich is the most important game. Hopefully they stay clear of injury and we have a good season and at the moment, the signs are good."

Newcastle have injury doubts over Steven Taylor (hamstring), but are without Ryan Taylor (knee). Norwich are missing Alex Tettey (ankle) and Elliott Bennett (knee) and have doubts over Anthony Pilkington (hip) and Ricky van Wolfswinkel (ankle).

There was just a single goal in the two games between these clubs last season, with Demba Ba's strike securing Newcastle a 1-0 win in this fixture.

Norwich have failed to score in their last three games against the Magpies.Pardew's side have won just two of their last eight home games.