Football is finally back, with us facing West Ham at the London Stadium in tonight’s opening day clash at 8pm.
The question is, who starts in Steve Bruce’s first starting 11 of the 2020/21 season?
With pre-season form and fitness in mind, here’s the side I can see starting at the London Stadium tonight:
Predicted NUFC XI (4-2-3-1): Darlow – Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis – Hayden, Shelvey – Murphy, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Wilson.
I can see a ‘touch and go’ Ritchie starting if he passes a late fitness test, but think Jacob Murphy could be thrown in following his eye-catching form over pre-season, with him starting alongside Almiron and Saint-Maximin in our final friendly.
I generally can’t see him getting enough game time this season, especially if Ritchie stays following Fraser’s arrival, however now is surely the perfect chance for Bruce to take a look at him at Premier League level before he makes a decision on another loan?
I can’t see Fraser being thrown straight in – he won’t be match fit after over six months away from competitive action – but think Bruce go with Lewis (our only fit left-back!) in Dummett’s absence and start Wilson up top too.
Carroll has done well in pre-season, staying fit and scoring a few great goals, but Wilson has 7 goals in his last 8 games against West Ham, with his presence in the starting 11 likely to give everyone involved an automatic boost.