hhello and welcome telegraph sports Coverage of Manchester City’s visit to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle, one of only four Premier League fixtures this weekend amid the latest rise in the Covid-19 infection rate.
Pep Guardiola has been cleared to travel to Newcastle with the Man City squad after his scheduled press conference on Friday was canceled due to an inconclusive COVID test.
The city boss took a follow-up PCR test, which has since come back negative, allowing him to join his team for the Gulf State derby.
Guardiola, who lost his mother to the coronavirus last year, told the club’s official website that all his players except Ferran Torres were fit, while Joao Cancello is available through suspension after missing a midweek route to Leeds .
“Newcastle are a very tough opponent,” Guardiola said. “People will talk about our place at the table or their place at the table but when you go to Newcastle you know what kind of game to expect.
“Now they have a new manager in Eddie (Howe) and we know what a good manager he is.”
Guardiola said: “They have had a tough start to the season, but they are a good team with good players and a top manager, so we will go out there and work hard for each other to win the game.”
City head into a poor run of the weekend with a one point lead at the top of the table.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe expects his players to face the “unique challenge” of the Premier League’s top two matches.
Howe’s side held just 26 percent of Thursday’s 3-1 loss at Anfield and they can probably expect even less against the defending champions, despite facing them at St James’s Park.
The physical exertion contributed to a hamstring injury to left-back Jamal Lewis and Alan Saint-Maximin sustaining muscle problems and, while the Magpies boss would freshen up the team, he is asking for more for the same effort.
“I think the challenge that we face in these two matches is the reality that we will be without the ball for a long time and the physical effort of the players will be really tested,” he said.
“It’s a unique challenge for us with these two matches, but the fact that we are at home and we have a crowd behind us will hopefully inspire us,” he said.
“We obviously need to rotate the team and make sure the team taking the pitch is as fresh as it can be.”