It has been a while since Cheick Tiote or Daryl Murphy started a competitive game for Newcastle United, in fact their appearances have even been limited from the substitutes bench.
However, both players clearly have quality, with Tiote performing consistently well for Newcastle, for a number of years now, even representing the club in European competition.
With Rafa Benitez’s side on a three game losing run, albeit once on penalties and another in a game that was somewhat taken out of their control, could the Newcastle manager be tempted to turn to two players who have had very limited opportunities this season?
The short answer is – probably not, however, you never know with Rafa. He may feel that partnering Jonjo Shelvey with Tiote, could give the English playmaker even more freedom to express himself, knowing that Tiote, who is a natural ball winner, is behind him.
Furthermore, Tiote has never been shy about receiving possession, when the back four are in control of the ball. This would only help Rafa’s apparent desire to play football from the back. Although, it must be noted that this is not a trait that is unique to Tiote.
Isaac Hayden and Jack Colback also offer the same desire to relieve the Newcastle backline of possession.
Moving on to Murphy, who is possibly the more likely of the two to start. The Republic of Ireland hitman, is yet to see his Newcastle career really take off.
In his brief outings in a black and white shirt, Murphy has shown that he is strong, intelligent and good in the air. However, as with Tiote, these are also traits that he shares with his competitor for a place in the match-day, Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Murphy will have a chance at some point this season, I just doubt it will be against Birmingham this weekend.
The main question is, would you bring in Tiote or Murphy? It would certainly take a brave manager to do so, but that is exactly what Rafa Benitez is.