NEWCASTLE UNITED will be without Rob Elliot for tomorrow's Premier League home game with Brighton.

Elliot played the full 90 minutes of Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, but the Republic of Ireland international has damaged his thigh and will be not be risked at the weekend.

Karl Darlow will replace him, and will return to the starting line-up for the first time since his error resulted in a 1-0 defeat to Everton four games ago.

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Isaac Hayden returns to the squad after missing the City game, but Florian Lejeune is still unavailable because of a foot injury that will also keep him out of Monday's trip to Stoke City.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said: "Hayden is available, but Elliot is not available. He kicked the ball and felt his thigh. He will be rested.

"Lejeune is still out. He kicked a team-mate who was tackling and is still feeling it. It will be at least another ten days at least. It is bruised on the bone."

Benitez once again defended his tactical approach in Wednesday's defeat at St James' Park in the face of continued criticism from a number of television pundits.

He said: "We are managers, and we have to take responsibility for our decisions. We were nearly there (against City).

"Imagine if we scored a late goal, everyone would be saying, 'Fantastic, perfect'. I've seen a lot of teams doing the same against Manchester City and nobody was criticising them.

"I was pleased with the performance of my players and the way they tried to do things against the best team in the Premier League at the moment and I think the fans appreciated that. Their reaction showed they were very pleased with the way we played."