Benitez could be set to axe this NUFC player vs West Ham – despite brilliant Burnley display..

Despite a brilliant performance and a crucial goal in Monday’s win at Burnley, it looks like Ciaran Clark could be dropped for tactical reasons for Saturday’s trip to West Ham – unless Rafa opts to continue with five at the back at St James’ Park.

Given we’ve won our last two at home playing Rafa’s commonly used 4-2-3-1 formation, I cant see him changing a winning formula – and I can’t see him playing five at the back in a home game we’ll be expected to be on the front foot in.

The form of Schar and Fernandez would be another factor in Clark not starting. Clark found a way in when we had three centre-backs on Monday, but the two summer signings have been forming a solid partnership in the last two at home – and I doubt Rafa would want to upset that.

Its harsh on Clark as he was one of the best players against Burnley and always gives 100%, but this just highlights our strength in depth at centre-back right now, with Lascelles and Lejeune also back in training this week .

The only way I can see him starting is if Rafa sticks with 5 at the back with Yedlin and Ritchie as wing backs, with him seeming an unlikely option at left-back.

Clark has played at full-back in the past, acting as cover for Paul Dummett, but his lack of pace and mobility was shown up in this role when he started our cup defeat away to forest earlier in the season.

I wouldn’t want to put him in at left back against tricky pacy wingers which West Ham possess in the likes of Michail Antonio and Grady Diangana, with him also being far from suitable from an offensive perspective – being the last player who’d get crosses into the box or make overlapping runs beyond Kenedy!

Do you think Clark will miss out? Or do you fancy Rafa to stick with five at the back or put him in at left-back in a four man defence (providing Dummett is out once again)?

Either way, let’s hope for another big three points and more magic from Salomon Rondon – who is generously priced at 11/1 to bag another brace at St James’ Park on Saturday.

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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