They also report that a change of formation is also on the cards, with the 5-4-1 formation seeing us struggle badly at both ends once again last weekend.
We’ve now won 1 of our last 9 league games, have failed to score in any of our last 3 and are in serious danger of being sucked right back into a relegation battle if we won’t make the most of our ‘winnable’ upcoming fixtures – despite the fact we’re 7 points clear of the drop zone as things stand.
The potential formation change is anyone’s guess – although the Chronicle did report that 5-3-2 was trialed in training last week – but we’ll have a good idea who’ll be dropped to make way for Hayden, Ritchie and Gayle.
It all depends on the formation Bruce plans to go with vs Burnley, but Rose could well make way for Ritchie, having looked unfit and sluggish since arriving from Spurs.
Another who could be axed is Nabil Bentaleb, who looked way off the pace in recent defeats against Arsenal and Palace. In truth, I’m not sure what Hayden did wrong to lose his place – especially when Sean Longstaff has been anything but firing on all cylinders aside from that impressive display at Oxford.
On the subject of Longstaff in a more advanced role, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw that on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Joelinton could be dropped to allow for a rare Gayle start – although the two could yet partner each other if Bruce does opt for two up top this weekend.
With Lazaro suspended, we can also expect one of Yedlin or Manquillo to come in. The latter is set to resume training this week and was solid before his New Years’ Day injury, but Yedlin seems most likely to get the nod to avoid risking the Spaniard after over 6 weeks out.
Our luck has ran out and things need to change and quickly – starting on Saturday at St James’ Park!
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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.