Steve Bruce has confirmed he’s finally ready to ring the changes ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Bournemouth, suggesting some won’t be able to play 4 games in 11 days.
Despite his big miss on Sunday, Bruce hints that Dwight Gayle could be given a chance to ‘put it right tomorrow’, also explaining why Christian Atsu is yet to be included in any of his squads since we returned from lockdown.
Illness appears to have been the issue initially for the Ghanaian, but it seems he’s not been good enough to make the squad of late – despite Bruce insisting he’ll have a part to play at some point.
Here’s what Bruce had to say about his Gayle, Atsu and his rotation plans ahead of tomorrow night’s game:
Bruce on rotation
“I think it’s only right that I freshen us up.
“I don’t want to go down to Bournemouth with them not having a game for a week and us playing four games in 11 days so I will be making some changes.
“Hopefully that pays off.”
Bruce on Dwight Gayle
“Dwight’s been in the game long enough,”
“He’s always been someone who can score a goal.
“Along the way, you’re going to miss them and of course big chances like that but knowing Dwight the way I do, he will train this morning and look to put it right tomorrow.”
Bruce on Christian Atsu’s absence
“Atsu wasn’t too well when we came back after the lockdown.
“You can only pick 20 players.
“He’s still got a part to play but, at the moment, he’s not quite making the squad.”
With Ritchie deemed ‘touch and go’ and unlikely to be risked and Saint-Maximin set to be suffering from fatigue, I wonder if we’ll see Atsu return to Bruce’s squad tomorrow?
That said, I expect to see Valentino Lazaro be handed his first start since football resumed, with him a capable replacement who needs game time if he’s to earn a permanent move from Inter Milan.
As for Gayle, Carroll won’t be starting two games in 4 days and Joelinton could be used out wide should both Ritchie and ASM be rested, so I can Dwight getting the nod.
If he does, let’s hope he can erase those Premier League demons, with him making a habit of missing huge chances in games either side of his goals vs Aston Villa, skying a big opportunity on Sunday and missing at hat-trick of clear openings in his last start at Southampton.