4-2-3-1: Predicted Newcastle line-up v Brentford, eight changes?

Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates scoring their sixth goal with Isaac Hayden and DeAndre Yedlin

Newcastle United are expected to make up to eight changes to their starting XI as Rafa Benitez's side aim for their first Championship win of 2017.

With his side currently second in the Championship standings, two points behind leaders Brighton, Rafa Benitez will be eager to secure Newcastle's first victory of 2017.

Last week's FA Cup draw with Birmingham City followed a disappointing defeat to Blackburn Rovers at the start of the month, meaning that the Toon travel to 14th placed Brentford with full focus on securing three points. 

Cheltenham Town's James Dayton in action with Newcastle United's Mohamed Diame (L) and Jamaal Lascelles

Benitez's selections will be slightly influenced by Mohamed Diame's unavailability, as the powerful 29-year-old is representing Senegal at the African Cup of Nations.

Diame's advanced midfield role looks likely to be afforded to Ayoze Perez - who may well see Diame's absence as a perfect opportunity to establish himself in the first team picture, having experienced a frustratingly inconsistent campaign to date. 

Newcastle's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their third goal

Perez is expected to start in tandem with the returning Dwight Gayle, after the Newcastle goal-getter was given a watching brief from the substitutes bench last week.

Supporting Gayle and Perez should be wingers Yoan Gouffran and Matt Ritchie - although consideration may be given to FA Cup scorer Daryl Murphy if Benitez alters his attacking set-up.

Newcastle's Matt Ritchie celebrates scoring their first goal with Isaac Hayden

In central midfield it is anticipated that last week's starters, Vernon Anita and Cheick Tiote, will step aside for the reinstating of usual double-pivot pairing Jack Colback and Isaac Hayden. 

Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates scoring their sixth goal with Isaac Hayden and DeAndre Yedlin

Newcastle's defensive unit is also likely to be adjusted, with the expected return of Ciaran Clark to continue his strong central defensive partnership with captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Benitez's seemingly preferred full back picks of DeAndre Yedlin and Paul Dummett can fully expect to be given spots - with the latter replacing recent starter Massadio Haidara at left back.

The final predicted change to Newcastle's starting line-up should see goalkeeper Karl Darlow handed the gloves in preference to Matz Sels, who did well to see off late Birmingham pressure towards the end of last week's clash.

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