Newcastle United make their long-awaited return to competitive action when they host Everton at St James’ Park on Tuesday night.
But before that, the Magpies must sit through a weekend of FA Cup and Football League matches, plus a huge encounter at the bottom of the Premier League.
NewcastleWorld picks out SEVEN games United fans should keep a close eye on:
Premier League: Burnley v Watford (Saturday, 6pm)
A massive, massive game in the battle for Premier League survival and one that will have implications on Newcastle, who playing until Tuesday night versus Everton.
A win for Burnley in front of their home fans will see Sean Dyche’s men climb above United into 18th place on goal difference with two games in-hand.
Meanwhile, the same outcome for Watford in Roy Hodgson’s first game will propel the Hornets out of the relegation zone at Norwich City’s expense and open up a two-point advantage over the Magpies with both teams on the same number of games played.
Arguably the best result Newcastle can hope for is a draw. It will still see the Hodgson’s men jump above Newcastle on goal difference but a point apiece does nothing to erase relegation fears.
Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis is suspended. Burnley, meanwhile, have Maxwel Cornet back at their disposal after his African Cup of Nations participation, while Wout Weghorst - Chris Wood’s replacement - could make his debut.
FA Cup fourth round: Everton v Brentford (Saturday, 3pm)
The Frank Lampard era at Everton gets underway in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday - three days before he makes the trip to St James’ Park.
Plenty of eyes will be on Goodison Park to see how the Toffees fare in Lampard’s first game in charge, and perhaps it’s a good game to judge given it’s against fellow Premier League opposition.
Everton will be hoping for a new manager and new signings bounce with Lampard bringing in Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek on deadline day.
But in truth, that’s the last thing Newcastle, although bolstered by five new signings themselves, want ahead of the pair’s Premier League meeting on Tuesday.
Victory for Eddie Howe’s side will see them go one point behind the Toffees and drag the Merseyside club firmly into the relegation trouble.
FA Cup fourth round: Cambridge United v Luton Town (5:30pm)
OK, so Newcastle fans won’t want to be reminded of their FA Cup exit to Cambridge United, but they were at least gracious in defeat.
The U’s, backed by a 4,000-strong away support at St James’ Park, more than deserved their victory following Joe Ironside’s winner.
The Geordie-faithful, whilst maybe feeling a little embarrassed, were more than happy to congratulate and wish the League One side well.
Can they continue their memorable journey against Championship side Luton Town? Plenty on Tyneside - including NewcastleWorld - are rooting for them.
FA Cup fourth round: Crystal Palace v Hartlepool United (Saturday, 3pm)
It’s a huge day for Hartlepool United, who head to the capital with plenty of wider North East support as they take on a Crystal Palace side 71 places above them.
But it could also be a big afternoon for Newcastle United youngster Joe White too, with the 19-year-old in line to make his senior debut at Selhurst Park.
White, one of Newcastle’s most exciting young talents, joined Pools on loan until the end of the season having recently attracted interest from Rangers and Celtic as his contract ticked into the final months.
While White has appeared in Premier League matchday squads against Manchester United and Manchester City, actually being able to play against a top-flight side is a whole different experience.
There is no danger of him being cup tied with the teenager an unused substitute during Newcastle’s defeat to Cambridge.
FA Cup fourth round: Peterborough United v Queens Park Rangers (Saturday, 3pm)
Having played just 10 minutes of Premier League football under Howe, Hendrick accepted a deadline day loan move to Queens Park Rangers.
The likelihood is the Republic of Ireland international would have been left out of Newcastle’s 25-man Premier League squad but there is still a lot to like about his desire to go out and play regularly, particularly after Jamal Lewis’ and Ciaran Clark’s reported snubs to Birmingham City and Middlesbrough.
“Anyone who knows me will know I will be disappointed with the game time I have got this season,” Hendrick told QPR’s website. “So, I wanted to get out, get games and enjoy my football.
“I wasn’t just going to sit around. A big thing for me is to push myself and enjoy my football.”
QPR take on Peterborough United in the FA Cup and Mark Warburton could well hand Hendrick his debut.
FA Cup fourth round: Bournemouth v Boreham Wood (Saturday, 6:30pm)
Bournemouth host National League side Boreham Wood - and Freddie Woodman is another who could be in line for his debut.
Woodman was set to join Scott Parker’s side in the summer before Newcastle’s goalkeeping crisis unfolded.
Fast forward six months and the 24-year-old has arrived ready to help the Cherries gain automatic promotion from the Championship.
Woodman could be saved for league action but given the former Swansea City loanee hasn’t played since September, Parker may feel he’ll benefit from some minutes against the non-league side.
League Two: Sutton United v Bristol Rovers (Saturday, 3pm)
If former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton as manager wasn’t enough to keep an eye on the happenings at Bristol Rovers, then surely Elliot Anderson will be.
The 19-year-old, perhaps surprisingly, joined the League Two side on loan for the remainder of the season, despite strong interest from Luton Town over the last 12 months.
But either way, now is Anderson’s chance to shine and live up to the talk that has seen him billed as one of the club’s most exciting prospects.
The whole of Tyneside hopes Anderson is a roaring success at the Memorial Stadium, starting against Sutton United on Saturday.