Newcastle in trouble after Beye's injury

LONDON: Newcastle United will be without Habib Beye when they face in their crucial relegation clash on Sunday. The club's only recognised right-back has been ruled out with a hamstring injury while their only left-back, José Enrique, has just returned to training.

Alan Shearer's side need at least a point at Villa, though even a win may not ensure Premier League survival should Hull City beat Manchester United and Sunderland overcome Chelsea.

"It's bigger than a cup final, a hell of a lot bigger than a cup final," said Shearer. "The question has been asked on four or five occasions over the last four or five games, 'Is this the biggest game of your career?' and I keep answering, 'Yes, because it's the next one'.

"But we know what's at stake, we know what's riding on it and I am pretty confident we can go there and give our great fans something to shout about, I really am."

A draw for Newcastle, coupled with defeat for Hull, would keep the side in the top flight, and Shearer is convinced his side can beat Villa.

"I am totally convinced we will get out of it, yes, and I think more importantly, so are my players," he said. "I asked them to forget last weekend's result [the 1–0 home defeat against Fulham], whether we thought we played well or whether we thought we played badly or had good decisions, bad decisions.

"That's gone, we can't change that. What we can change is this weekend and I believe if we go there and win, it will be a very very good day for us."

Shearer has problems in attack and Michael Owen will undergo a late fitness test while the manager hopes Obafemi Martins will continue to be able to play through his long-standing groin injury. There was at least some good news, though, as Alan Smith has been passed fit after recovering from a thigh problem.

Meanwhile the central defender Sébastien Bassong will join Joey Barton in the stands after losing his appeal against the red card he picked up against Fulham last week.