Swansea City visit Newcastle United keen to put talk of training ground unrest behind them and gain a vital win in their fight for survival.
The Welsh side travel to St James’ Park only three points above the relegation zone after a run of two wins in 10 Premier League games under Garry Monk, who replaced Michael Laudrup in early February.
Monk’s men succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Chelsea last weekend, and their build-up to Saturday’s fixture has been blighted by speculation of a training ground bust-up.
Swansea winger Nathan Dyer insisted earlier in the week that such reports have been “blown out of proportion”, with Monk adamant that there is no friction within the camp.
And the 35-year-old head coach is eager for his side to refocus and pull clear of the bottom three with a win at St James’, which would complete the double over Newcastle following Swansea’s 3-0 victory in December’s reverse fixture.
“You could see by the performance on Sunday (against Chelsea) how united we are as a group, so there’s no problem whatsoever,” Monk said on Thursday.
“We’ve been looking over our shoulders for a while now. It’s a serious situation, we know that, and we need to get some points on the board as soon as possible.
“It’s crunch time now and I want us to get wins and finish with as many as possible. Newcastle is a chance to get three points and that’s what we’ll be aiming for.”
Newcastle are side in the midst of a slump and, with nothing to play for in their four remaining games, may prove to be the perfect opposition for Swansea.
Alan Pardew’s side, who sit ninth in the table, have lost five of their last six Premier League games – scoring once in that run – and have claimed just four top-flight wins since the turn of the year.
However, Pardew is sure to be boosted by the prospective return of top scorer Loic Remy.
The France international has missed Newcastle’s last six games with a calf injury, while full-back Mathieu Debuchy has been out for the same period due to a groin strain.
Remy and Debuchy have now returned to full training, although midfielder Moussa Sissoko (hamstring) is still out and could be joined on the sidelines by playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa, who has a knock.
Meanwhile, defender Davide Santon is expected to miss the rest of the season with a hamstring problem.
For Swansea, centre-back Chico Flores is suspended following his dismissal in the loss to Chelsea, while Kyle Bartley (hamstring) and Michu (ankle) are also both set to miss out.
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