Newcastle United v Aston Villa: Carver praises rejuvenated visitors
Newcastle United manager John Carver expects an Aston Villa team with a "new lease of life" to provide a tough test in Saturday's Premier League encounter at St James' Park.
Carver's men were thumped 5-0 by defending champions Manchester City last time out in a game that marked the low point in a run of just one win in their last eight.
A home match against relegation-threatened Villa - who have not won in the league since December 7 - presents a chance for Newcastle to end that dismal streak.
Despite the visitors' 2-1 home defeat to Stoke City in Tim Sherwood's first game in charge, Carver has already seen improvements in the Midlands club.
"I've seen the difference in Villa straight away under Tim," Carver said. "They are going front to back a bit quicker.
"Villa have got a new lease of life, more energy, and it won't be an easy game for us."
The hosts have received a morale boost with the news that midfielder Jonas Gutierrez is in the senior squad for the first time since recovering from testicular cancer.
Although Gutierrez could be in line for an emotional return, Newcastle still have a host of injury issues to deal with.
Remy Cabella is a doubt with a knee problem that forced him to miss the drubbing at the Etihad Stadium, while Jack Colback is suspended.
Teenage winger Rolando Aarons (hamstring) is still out and is joined on the sidelines by Siem de Jong (lung), Paul Dummett (knee), Robert Elliot (thigh), Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Cheick Tiote (knee).
Villa's only confirmed injury absentee is Kieran Richardson because of a knock. Ron Vlaar is banned, while Aly Cissokho, Alan Hutton and Philippe Senderos (calf) are all doubts.
Sherwood conceded Villa's performance was below par versus Stoke, who snatched all three points courtesy of a late Victor Moses penalty following a foul by Vlaar that saw the Dutchman sent off.
However, he remains confident he can turn around the fortunes of a team who have scored just 13 league goals all season.
"It wasn't great against Stoke," Sherwood said. "I'm not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, but we should have got a point and that would have taken us out of the relegation zone and given us a bounce.
"I had five days of training [before Stoke] so give us a break. It will take time. I have managed for one game and scored one goal. Good ratio."