It’s been a grim start to 2020 for Newcastle United, with us winning just one league game since the turn of the year and failing to score in our last 4 – but that could all change with a big win tonight.
We take on West Brom at the Hawthorne’s knowing a win would send us into the FA Cup quarter finals – and all that’s left now is to see what side Steve Bruce selects for the big kick off.
With form, fitness and Steve Bruce’s pre-match comments in mind, here’s the side I can see starting come 8pm this eveing:
(4-2-3-1): Darlow – Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Ritchie – S Longstaff, Bentaleb – Lazaro, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.
OUT – Dubravka, Fernandez, Manquillo, Rose, Hayden, Shelvey, Gayle.
IN – Darlow, Schar, Yedlin, Lazaro, S Longstaff, Bentaleb, Saint-Maximin.
The Shields Gazette report that Dubravka, Shelvey, Manquillo and Gayle will be rested, with Bruce feeling the latter trio are unable to play twice in 4 days after only just returning from long-term injuries against Burnley on Saturday.
At centre-back, Lascelles’ leadership could be key, so I can see him being partnered by one of Lejeune or Schar – or both if Bruce goes back to playing three centre-halves.
Lazaro is back from a one-game ban and I can see him returning – either at wing-back in a five-man defence or in a more advanced role should Bruce continue with 4-2-3-1.
On the other side, I don’t see Rose starting again given how unfit / heavy he’s looked since arriving from Spurs, meaning Ritchie looks likely to play. That said, if Bruce wants to use him further up the pitch as he did over the weekend, Rose may have to play at left-back.
In midfield, Matty missed out on Bruce’s 18-man squad over the weekend, suggesting brother Sean and Bentaleb are ahead of him in the pecking order, while Hayden did little to impress against Burnley.
Despite being a major doubt just 24 hours ago, Saint-Maximin has been passed fit, while Almiron could well continue as a no.10 / second striker.
That said, he could well play just behind Joelinton this time, with the Brazilian likely to replace Gayle up top – who seems unlikely to play twice in 4 days so soon after returning from 6 weeks out.
How do you see us lining up?