I wrote a piece on Thursday naming the team that looked likely to start against Burnley “barring any unexpected injury announcements from Bruce’s pre-match press conference”.
Less than 24 hours later and it seems I cursed it, with Bruce revealing in his Friday morning presser that minor knocks for Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron will keep them out of today’s clash with Burnley.
With them looking set to join Lascelles, Ritchie, Saint-Maximin, Clark and Ki on the sidelines, here’s the new-look NUFC side that could well start at Turf Moor today:
(5-2-3): Dubravka – Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Willems – Hayden, S.Longstaff – Atsu, Carroll, Joelinton.
OUT: Clark, Shelvey, Almiron, Saint-Maximin?
IN: Schar, S.Longstaff, Atsu, Carroll?
You may be wondering ‘Joelinton out wide?’ – but Steve Bruce dropped yet another hint yesterday that the Brazilian could be set for a position change.
Not only is Carroll impressing up top, injuries to ASM and Almiron mean we’re woefully short in wide areas, so it looks highly likely that he and Atsu play either side of big Andy today.
In midfield, I don’t see Shelvey being risked. He may be in great form but look what happened to Saint-Maximin when Bruce last took a chance on someone’s fitness. As a result, surely a capable and fresh Sean Longstaff comes in to partner Isaac Hayden.
At the back, Willems’ rare below par performance last weekend suggested he may need a rest, but with Ritchie still out I don’t see that happening just yet. Bruce may give Manquillo a rest and bring Yedlin back in, but the Spaniard’s rock solid displays in recent weeks suggest he should keep his place in the side unless he’s fatigued or carrying a knock we don’t know about.
At centre-back it seems pretty straight forward now Clark and Lascelles have been ruled out. Schar on the right-hand side, Fernandez in the centre and Dummett on the left, with Lejeune set to be on the bench for the first time this season?
In goal it’ll be Dubravka, but we may need another blinder from him here if we’re to keep out a wounded Burnley side who may well be smelling blood after seeing our long injury list!