Poyet pleased with Ba's absence
Brighton boss Gus Poyet is glad not to be facing Demba Ba, but still expects a tough FA Cup third-round encounter with Newcastle despite their woes in the Barclays Premier League.
The Magpies have lost nine of their last 11 matches and could probably do without a return to the scene of their fourth-round defeat in the same competition last season.
In-form striker Ba is also on the verge of joining Chelsea, but Poyet knows his side will still have to be at their best to pull off another giantkilling.
"It's not a great time for Newcastle in the league," the Uruguayan told reporters. "They played on Wednesday night so I'm sure there are plenty of things Alan Pardew will think about.
"That said, it's a cup competition live on TV so I wouldn't be surprised if they play their best team. They should be capable of beating us, they are a good team with great players.
"I'm very glad not to be facing Demba Ba, and if he wants to leave (Papiss) Cisse and company out I will be very happy as well.
"Maybe the fans want to see the best players at the Amex and he (Ba) is an outstanding player who can score from anywhere. It doesn't mean it will be easy, but I'm glad he's not there."
Poyet has long been a thorn in Newcastle's side in the FA Cup, having also scored twice against them for Chelsea in the 2000 semi-final before the Blues went on to lift the trophy.
"I don't know what my relationship with Newcastle is but it looks like I'm going to have it my whole career," he added.
"I think it's great and last year makes it even more interesting. It's another great game for me, our players and our supporters.
"We played Liverpool twice last year and now we play Newcastle again, it's the way the draw is. Me and Newcastle and the FA Cup, there is always a history there.
"I prefer to play Premier League teams and not Championship sides, so it's great for us. When you play against better teams you need to be very good and make it difficult for them as well as hoping for a bit of luck.
"This game is even more interesting because of last year. Newcastle will come here in a different way, they will make it even more difficult and it will be another great game of football for the supporters."
Will Buckley's deflected strike was enough to see off the Magpies in last season's meeting, but the winger is unlikely to play this time due to a hamstring injury.
Right-back Bruno is also likely to sit out with an Achilles injury while fellow Spaniard Vicente is still not fit after a thigh problem.
Jake Forster-Caskey and Romain Vincelot are back with the Seagulls following loan spells and are available, although Poyet is expected to field his strongest side.
Winger Kazenga LuaLua will be hoping to line up against his former club.
Meanwhile, Pardew admits he feels sorry for his beleaguered players as they attempt to drag Newcastle out of an alarming mid-season slump.
The 51-year-old has seen his side ripped apart by injury and suspension in recent weeks, and the lack of strength in depth has been graphically exposed by their damaging run.
Pardew had only five members of what would be considered his strongest team available for Wednesday night's 2-1 home defeat by Everton, and will head into the tricky trip to Brighton with one fewer following midfielder Cheick Tiote's departure for the African Nations Cup.
He said: "I don't feel sorry for myself - I'm not that type - but I really, genuinely, look at Colo [skipper Fabricio Coloccini] and Tim Krul, people like that, and do feel for them.
"They are having to really work hard with players who perhaps shouldn't be in the team in terms of where they are in their careers.
"There's no doubt that Sammy Ameobi, Shane Ferguson, James Tavernier, all those guys, eventually will be Newcastle players, but now in the situation we are in, we really shouldn't be asking them [to play].
"We are playing our hearts out and not getting any results. I don't think even our harshest critic would say we are not really trying.
"There's a good atmosphere in the changing room in terms of the togetherness, but we just need more quality on the pitch.
"When you are coming up against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton, you are at a disadvantage, but not for lack of effort."
New signing Mathieu Debuchy is unavailable for the game.