Wolverhampton Wanderers Vs Newcastle United, Sat 1 Oct 2011

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Defender Richard Stearman is Wolves' major new fitness doubt for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Newcastle.

Stearman suffered a toe injury during the 2-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield and was substituted at half-time. If he is ruled out, 19-year-old Matt Doherty will start.

Striker Steven Fletcher has recovered from the groin problem which restricted him to a second-half substitute's role against the Reds. Jody Craddock, Ronald Zubar, Kevin Foley and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake are still unavailable through injury.

The Magpies are revelling in a run of form which has seen them remain unbeaten in eight games in all competitions so far this season to confound the predictions of those who thought they may struggle.

The departures of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton after they were unable to agree new contracts deprived the manager not only of quality and experience, but of two of two of the most prominent voices in the dressing room.

However, the spirit the pair helped to foster remains intact and with new signings Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba in particular having made encouraging impacts, confidence is high.

Boss Alan Pardew said: "It just goes to show you, it is not about one or two players or even three players, it's about the group.

"The staff have all been here a long time. When I arrived, some of the staff members had been here about 15 years - we had gone through about five people like me, maybe six, even - so they have great experience of how to keep an even keel.

"I have enjoyed working with them. That group has been together a long time and that is part of it.

"It's also the standards we set on the training ground and on the pitch, and what we will accept and won't accept in terms of behaviour. It all adds to the spirit.

"Certainly, the foundations were laid and put down by the likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and people like that because team spirit is important to those types of players.

"It's a trait that if you are a Newcastle player, you need to have."

Despite the air of positivity surrounding St James' Park, Pardew will send his side out at Molineux under orders to take nothing for granted.

He said: "If you were looking at the game on form, yes, we should win the game, but the Premier League throws the form book out of the window at times.

"Wolves are the type that upset that with their work-rate and their commitment to the cause. They have got good players in there, so it is a difficult game."

Davide Santon will be included in the Newcastle squad for the first time.

The 20-year-old Italian played 90 minutes for the reserves in midweek after having fluid drained from his knee.

However, striker Shola Ameobi will miss out once again with a shoulder injury, while Alan Smith (hamstring) and Mike Williamson (broken arm) remain on the sidelines.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Joey Barton
Ronald Zubar
Kevin Foley
Kevin Nolan
Alan Smith
Jody Craddock
Mike Williamson
Premier League
Steven Fletcher
Demba Ba
Shola Ameobi
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
Richard Stearman
Matt Doherty

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