Chelsea await ahead of tonight’s 5.30pm kick off at St James’ Park and it’ll be interesting to see what side Steve Bruce selects, with a few key players passed fit.
Schar, Saint-Maximin, Shelvey, Ritchie and Lascelles are fit again, but Carroll is a doubt and Dummett, Manquillo, Yedlin, Gayle, Ki and Muto have been ruled out.
In our last Premier League outing at Wolves, the following side started: (5-2-2-1) Dubravka – Hayden, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Willems – S.Longstaff, M.Longstaff – Joelinton, Almiron – Gayle.
Today, we think this could be something like the side that takes on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea:
Predicted NUFC XI – (5-2-3): Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Fernandez, Clark, Willems – Hayden, Shelvey – Atsu, Joelinton, Almiron.
OUT – Dummett, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Gayle.
IN – Schar, Krafth, Shelvey, Atsu.
At the back, Martin Dubravka will return after a rare run out for Darlow in midweek, but Bruce finally has a few options to play with at centre-back.
Lascelles is back, but I don’t see the skipper being thrown straight back in, with him puffing after 55 minutes against Rochdale on Tuesday.
I expect Schar to come straight back in given how important his ball playing skills are at home, but think Lejeune may be left out for this one after not only playing the full 90 in midweek but struggling badly in his last few outings at St James’ Park.
With that in mind and Paul Dummett injured, I can see Schar, Fernandez and Clark starting here, with Willems likely to return at left wing-back given he was rested on Tuesday. Matt Ritchie is now fit again, but I’m not sure he’ll start two games in a week after being out since August?
At right wing-back, Yedlin and Manquillo have both been ruled out, so it’s likely either Krafth or Hayden come in. The latter did a good job their against Wolves, but you’d have to question why we bought Krafth if he can’t even get a game when two of our first choice right-backs are injured!
In midfield, Shelvey seems likely to return after a cameo appearance against Rochdale, and I can see Hayden partnering him (if he doesn’t start at right-back) after both Longstaff’s were force to play 180 minutes each over the past week.
Up top, Carroll seems like he’ll make the bench at best, Gayle and Muto are out and, although Saint-Maximin is ‘fit’ again, I can’t see Bruce throwing him straight back in.
With so few options available, I can see Almiron and Atsu playing either side of Joelinton.