Newcastle United - Aston Villa Preview: Pardew's men looking to end three-game losing run

The hosts have lost their last three matches and have failed to find the net in all but two of their last nine games in all competitions
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-form teams clash at St James' Park but Villa used a break in the fixture schedule to take in some warm-weather training ahead of the clash against Alan Pardew’s side.

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 the difference as Villa battle to stay clear of the relegation zone.

9/1 Newcastle and Aston Villa are 9/1 with Bet365 to draw 0-0
"It was a good little break and the lads did little things themselves," Lambert told reporters.

"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 shows Lambert's men have a strong chance of securing victory at St James’ Park.

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 this term.

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 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 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 Cheikh 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.