Benitez seemed in a buoyant mood in his press conference today, and so he should be, with him delivering promising injury news on both Matt Ritchie and Islam Slimani, whilst confirming Joselu would be the only notable absentee tomorrow due to an ankle problem.
With this in mind, coupled by the fact we’re on a strong run of form (especially at St James’ Park), I am quite certain that the following line-up will be the side we start against Huddersfield at St James’ Park tomorrow:
NUFC XI to play Huddersfield: (4-2-3-1) – Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Gayle.
SUBS: Darlow, Clark, Manquillo, Merino, Atsu, Murphy, Slimani.
The same side that beat Southampton 3-0 last time out, and rightly so.
Gayle has been full of energy and has looked sharp once again, with 2 goals in his last assists meaning he’ll be keeping out Slimani once again – even if the Algerian has been passed fit and confirmed to be in the squad by Benitez.
Merino will be pushing for a return to the side too, but Diame and Shelvey have perhaps been the most important part of our side in recent weeks, so they’ll continue in the middle.
As will Lascelles and Lejeune at centre-back – a pair that have showed signs of developing a formidable partnership since the Frenchman’s returns from injury, with them helping us to back to back home clean sheets over Man Utd and Southampton.
Would you be happy to see Rafa field this side, or would you do something different against Huddersfield tomorrow?