Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v Aston Villa

Paul Lambert is banking on a team-bonding trip to Portugal inspiring Aston Villa to victory at Newcastle United on Sunday.

Two of the Premier League's out-of-sorts teams clash at St James' Park, with Villa boss Lambert hoping some fun in the sun will give his players a psychological advantage this weekend.

Villa used a break in the fixture schedule – Sheffield United dumped the Midlands club out of the FA Cup earlier this month – to take in some warm-weather training on the continent ahead of the Newcastle clash.

Lambert believes the time spent in Portugal has added a "freshness" to his squad.

And, following a run of four wins from 20 league games, the Scot thinks it could make all the difference as Villa battle to stay clear of the relegation zone.

"It was a good little break and the lads did little things themselves," said Lambert.

"The thing is you have to live in each other's pockets for that period of time.

"We're now ready to go on Sunday and go to try to win."

While Villa have won just seven Premier League games this season, the club's away form suggests Lambert's men have every chance of beating Newcastle, although they are without a victory at St James' Park since April 2005.

Villa have picked up five points from a possible 12 in their last four matches on their travels, winning 1-0 at Sunderland, claiming a credible 2-2 draw at Liverpool and holding Cardiff City to a goalless stalemate last time out.

Indeed, Villa have collected more points away from Villa Park this term than at home, the undoubted highlight being an opening-day success at Arsenal.

Newcastle, by coincidence, have also amassed more points on their travels than on home soil in 2013-14.

Like Villa, inconsistency is also a major issue at Newcastle, who have failed to score in seven of their last nine games and lost three on the spin at the hands of Sunderland, Chelsea and Tottenham.

St James' Park has not been a happy hunting ground of late for Alan Pardew's team as Newcastle have slumped to four successive Premier League home defeats.

Having been talked about back in November as potential challengers for a UEFA Champions League spot, Newcastle now find themselves in mid-table and in desperate need to end a four-game goalless streak.

Pardew will be thankful, then, that top-scorer Loic Remy is back from a three-match suspension.

Captain Fabricio Coloccini is in contention to return following a knee injury, while Cheick Tiote is also in line to be considered after overcoming a hamstring problem.

Lambert revealed this week that Jores Okore is nearing an end to his rehabilitation from his long-term knee injury, but Sunday's game will come too soon for the Villa defender to be considered.