Rafa Benitez has hinted that young duo Sean Longstaff and Jamie Sterry will be handed starts tonight in our Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest – also suggesting that Yoshinori Muto may finally get his chance to play in his preferred position up top.
With us having played on Sunday and Lascelles, Shelvey, Ritchie and Manquillo all out (and Hayden banned), our thin squad is being put to the test already, meaning Rafa may be forced to call on a few youngsters ahead of tonight’s game live on Sky Sports.
Here’s what Rafa had to say about Sean Longstaff and Jamie Sterry ahead of tonight’s game, suggesting that both could be set to start after progressing in training:
“Normally, training with us are Longstaff and Sterry. I think that they will have a chance to play,”
“I like to coach players and to improve players, so when you have young players and they listen to you, then you can see that they are progressing.
“How much they progress, it depends on the level of each one, but these two lads are always ready, listening and trying to do whatever you say, so we will see and hopefully they can do well.”
Rafa also confirmed that Kenedy will be back in the squad, having been ineligible to play against parent club Chelsea on Sunday.
Benitez then touched on Yoshinori Muto, suggesting he might get his chance to play up front after appearing as a number 10 in substitute appearances so far:
“Muto is in the squad, yes,”
“I think [his best position is as] a striker. We are missing a couple of positions and he can cover.
“To be fair, he has been unlucky because when he went on at Cardiff, we had to change the system and he had to go as a midfielder, and the other day when we put him on the pitch, we changed to 4-1-4-1 [against Chelsea] at the end, so he had to go back too.
“He was not playing in his ideal position in the games he has played, but he might do soon.”
I don’t expect Rondon to start again after playing on Sunday and Joselu has already featured heavily over pre-season and during out opening three games, so Muto may just get his chance to shine up top tonight.
With Lascelles, Shelvey, Ritchie and Manquillo all ruled out, here’s the side we could see start:
(4-2-3-1): Darlow – Sterry, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett – Diame, Longstaff – Astu, Perez, Kenedy – Muto.
What would you go with folks?