With injured players close to returning and a few of their replacements performing well, Steve Bruce will have several huge calls to make over the coming month.
Here’s a look at some of the selection dilemmas he will be facing over the coming weeks:
Lejeune or Dummett?
Dummett has been outstanding and is arguably our most consistent defender, but his chance at the left-side of our three-man defence came as a result of Florian Lejeune’s ACL injury in April.
The Frenchman has been tipped to return over the next month or so, and while he won’t be rushed back in by Steve Bruce, he’s too good to be on the bench when he’s fully fit and ready to play.
Could Bruce drop Dummett? Would he dare leave out our skipper Jamaal Lascelles? It’s a good problem to have, but it’ll be very interesting to see what he does here.
Willems or Ritchie?
Ankle ligament damage has seen Ritchie miss our last few games. He’s making ‘remarkable’ progress according to Bruce and could be back at the end of the month for our trip to Leicester, but his recent replcement Jetro Willems has caught the eye.
He lacks the intensity Ritchie brings to the side and doesn’t look like a natural defender, but his quality on the ball and threat in the attacking third has been superior to Ritchie’s so far this season.
His goal at Liverpool was brilliant and he seems to have the ability to pick out passes and whip good balls into the box – something Ritchie hasn’t done well of late despite all his efforts.
I expect Bruce to bring Ritchie back in, but Willems is giving him something to think about..
Krafth or Manquillo / Yedlin?
Krafth has got some unfair stick at times this season for me, but he struggle badly on Saturday and seems more of a right-back than a right wing-back – something which leaves him looking a little out of place in our formation.
Manquillo impressed over pre-season and is more of a forward thinking wing-back, while Yedlin is also close to returning after several months following groin surgery.
Will Bruce stick with the Swede with Manquillo and Yedlin knocking on the door?
Shelvey or Hayden / Longstaff?
It was reported in The Athletic last month that Bruce planned to build his team around Jonjo Shelvey when he arrived at Newcastle United.
Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden are more reliable and appeared to be his first choice pair before the former got injured in training, but what will Bruce do going forward when all three are fit?
Saint-Maximin or Atsu / Almiron?
The Frenchman’s time on Tyneside has been blighted by a reoccurring hamstring issue so far, but his spark and attacking flair is something we’re crying out for in attack.
That said, his replacement Christian Atsu has impressed and has outshone Miguel Almiron so far this season, giving Bruce another big decision to make in the wide areas.
Will Bruce drop Almiron for Saint-Maximin when he’s ready to return next month? Or will he take Atsu out of the team despite his impressive form?
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It’s fair to say Bruce won’t be leaving out £40m man Joelinton anytime soon, but Andy Carroll is closing in on his ‘second debut’ – and it’s recently been reported that he’s hoping for ’10 to 15 starts’ out of the 30-year-old.
If this is the case, who is he coming in for and what will the formation be?