Toon manager Joe Kinnear is trying to take solace from the fact Habib Beye, Obafemi Martins and Jonas Gutierrez could all return to the fray against City after learning Michael Owen is set to miss the clash with a groin injury.
Owen is expected to be sidelined for seven to 10 days, ruling him out of the City match but giving him hope of being fit for the derby clash with Sunderland.
"He tweaked his groin in training so he is a big doubt," Kinnear said. "I am hoping it is not as bad as it looked when he first did it."
Kinnear, who returns to the dug-out following a Football Association touchline ban picked up at this days with Nottingham Forest, believes the comebacks of Beye, Martins and Jonas are a boost to the Tyneside club.
He said: "Having players back has lifted people's spirits.
"It always does when you have people coming back from injury. People start looking over their shoulder and step it up.
"The worst thing you can have is no competition. And with these people back now you have players fighting to get into the team.
"So everybody else has been working hard to hold on to the position they are in.
"People are now competing for the position they play in.
"It's nice to have top players back in the squad. It adds more quality to the sessions and everybody is now under pressure to hold on to the spot they have had.
"Everybody has worked hard, people seem happy within themselves and people are expressing themselves.
"The icing on the cake would be to get a good result against Man City and keep that buzz going."