Preview: Southampton vs. Newcastle United

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Southampton and Newcastle, who are separated by only one point and one place in the table, at St Mary's Stadium.

Southampton and Newcastle United meet at St Mary's Stadium this weekend with both teams in with a chance of finishing above the reigning Premier League champions.

The two clubs have been vying for eighth and ninth positions in the table for most of the season, but could leapfrog Manchester United with a strong run-in.

With the Red Devils slipping up in recent weeks, the gap from them to the ninth-placed Saints, who are a point and a place below Newcastle, has reduced to only six points with seven games remaining.

Magpies manager Alan Pardew, who admitted earlier in the campaign that finishing higher than United would be a target for his players, will be allowed to attend following his three-game stadium ban.

The 52-year-old, who watched his side lose comprehensively at home to Everton on Tuesday at a local hotel, is still suspended from the touchline for a further four matches, though.

Tim Krul is not available for the Tyneside outfit, with the Dutch goalkeeper having been ruled out of their next "two or three games" because of a knee injury, so Rob Elliot will deputise in between the posts.

Davide Santon should shake off a nasty case of tonsillitis to return for the first time this month, having previously been sidelined by a knee problem, but his fellow full-back Mathieu Debuchy remains out.

Thirteen-goal top goalscorer Loic Remy and Sammy Ameobi will be absent from the forward line and therefore Luuk de Jong and Papiss Cisse may be paired together up front once again.

Cisse has scored just two Premier League goals from open play in the last year, while De Jong has yet to net since joining on loan in January, but received a vote of confidence from Pardew this week.

Southampton saw their slim hopes of European qualification all but ended by Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, with Nathaniel Clyne's error helping Spurs come from two goals down to win in London.

The former Crystal Palace man was hooked at half time and replaced by Calum Chambers, who could be restored from the off this Saturday in defence, where Maya Yoshida will not play again this season.

The Japanese centre-back has suffered a knee injury, and Steven Davis may also miss the match on the South Coast after picking up a knock. Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez will need fitness tests, with Gaston Ramirez on standby to fill in if either is deemed unavailable to start.

Recent form

Southampton: LWWLLL

Newcastle: LWLWWL

Possible starting lineups

Southampton: Boruc; Chambers, Fonte, Lovren; Shaw; Cork, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin; Ramirez, Lallana, Lambert

Newcastle: Elliot; Santon, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran, De Jong, Cisse

Sports Mole says: 2-0

Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace takes on Fabrizio Coloccini of Newcastle United during the Barclays Premier League match on March 22, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City23202167175062
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd23155348163250
3Liverpool23138254282647
4Chelsea23145441162547
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs23135546212544
6Arsenal23116641301139
7Burnley239771920-134
8Leicester CityLeicester238783432231
9Everton2376102538-1327
10Watford2375113342-926
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham2367102941-1225
12Crystal Palace2367102133-1225
13Bournemouth2366112435-1124
14Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2366111939-2024
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2365122131-1023
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2358101729-1223
17Southampton2349102334-1121
18Stoke CityStoke2355132350-2720
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom23310101830-1219
20Swansea CitySwansea2345141435-2117
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