Rafa Benitez will assess whether to shuffle his pack after the impressive win at Huddersfield last time out, with the likes of Dummett and Yedlin back from injury and suspension respectively.
Fulham visit St.James’ Park tomorrow in a traditional 3pm kick off, in what is a crucial game for both sides. For us, it represents a chance to get some real day light between the relegation zone and would put us on 19 points – on track to hit the magical 40 point mark come May. Fulham are already in dire need of points and sit bottom of the pile. Considering our poor home form, will very much view this as a chance to get points on the board.
So given the importance of the game, what changes might Benitez make?
OUT – Clark, Manquillo, Kenedy, Lascelles?
IN – Dummett, Yedlin, Ritchie, Fernandez?
(4-2-3-1) – Dubravka – Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Diame, Ki, Perez, Atsu, Ritchie, Rondon.
The most controversial would be leaving out Lascelles but Rafa has done it before and isn’t afraid to drop the skipper. He made a reckless challenge that would have been a red at Huddersfield and has been a little ropey after recovering from injury, with him really struggling in our last home game vs Wolves. Fernandez has been outstanding and if fit, is likely to play regardless if it is four or five at the back.
Ritchie was rested last time out and may enjoy a return to the left side and his natural foot, after mostly playing on the right flank this season so far. Kenedy was poor once again last weekend and perhaps needs taking out the firing line – it’s just whether on this form he is still better than Atsu – who again flatters to deceive.
Dummett is all set to return after two week’s training with the team and is highly regarded by Rafa. Despite a good assist for Rondon last game, Manquillo will drop to the bench, which would strengthen our XI for sure. Dummett will also provide more physical cover for the centre halves as we try and deal with the aerial power of Mitrovic on his return to SJP. The other option of course is reverting the back 5 but that hasn’t worked so well for us at home of late.
What do you make of our proposed XI? What changes would you make?