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Key duo ready to make Newcastle return
LOIC REMY and Mathieu Debuchy are finally expected to make their return from injury when Newcastle United entertain Swansea City on Saturday.
The pair have seen their prospective comeback dates altered on a number of occasions in recent weeks amid accusations that they were putting their World Cup hopes ahead of their club responsibilities with the Magpies.
However, Newcastle officials are increasingly confident that the French duo will be passed fit for the weekend as Alan Pardew's side attempt to end a run of four successive defeats.
Remy's return will be especially welcome as Newcastle have scored just one goal in the 11 matches in which the striker, who has been linked with a possible summer move to Atletico Madrid, has not featured this season.
He has been sidelined since injuring his calf in the 4-1 win at Hull at the start of March, but has been in full training all week and will be asked to lead the line against the Swans.
Given that his loan deal from QPR expires at the end of the season, there are bound to be question marks over his level of motivation, with Newcastle safely ensconced in mid-table.
However, with France boss Didier Deschamps far from guaranteed to offer Remy a spot in his final 23-man World Cup squad, the hope within the Magpies hierarchy is that the 27-year-old will recognise that a strong end to the season could enhance his prospects of making it to Brazil.
Debuchy's World Cup place is more secure, but the right-back will still need to shake off some rustiness ahead of France's pre-tournament friendlies, having also been sidelined since the Hull game.
Debuchy's return will almost certainly see Pardew abandon the five-man defence he fielded at Stoke, with the former Lille defender lining up as an orthodox right-back rather than a wing-back.
Saturday's game could have major repercussions for Pardew's position, with the Newcastle boss having been the subject of derogatory chants from his own supporters during last weekend's 1-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
While Mike Ashley is not expected to change manager before the end of the season, Pardew desperately needs a positive result to quell some of the mounting frustration that has boiled over during the recent losing run.
If Newcastle are to record only their third home win of 2014, they will have to end a six-hour wait for a goal that stretches right back to Papiss Cisse's last-minute winner against Crystal Palace.
Vurnon Anita wasted the best opportunity of a success last weekend, heading Shola Ameobi's late cross over the crossbar, and the Dutch midfielder admits his side are struggling to convert their chances.
“I've not really been (in a team that's had a similar run), but you have periods in competition when that happens and now we are in that position,” said Anita. “We need to keep on working hard to get in the box because we get the chances, but we don't score.
“That's football, but I think we just need to stick together because we are now in a corner where the points are falling. So we need to stick together.”
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