The Reds have kept clean sheets in four of the last five league outings and the goalless draw with Chelsea last Friday, while highlighting a lack of attacking options, again illustrated the desire in the team to retain the trophy.
In-form striker James Wilson is expected to be in the squad, even though he has been suffering from an illness, and midfielder Ben Pearson could also be back in contention. With captain Tom Thorpe likely to miss out again, at least Paddy McNair has trained after being forced off with a knee injury last time out and should be available to play at centre-back.
Young duo Josh Harrop and Matthew Willock came off the bench against Chelsea to become the 40th and 41st players used by Warren Joyce this term but the coach now has only a small squad to choose from on Tyneside following a number of loan exits.
The Reds are seventh in the 22-team table but victory in the North East would move Joyce's team into fourth spot. The Magpies are second from bottom after six consecutive defeats.