After pulling off three strong signings and winning our opening game of the season last week, we’ll be hoping to get this one off to a flying start with a victory over Blackburn in the Carabao Cup tonight.
A big chance to make the last 16 awaits, with the winner facing Morecambe or Oldham, but it seems Bruce will make big changes tonight.
With form and fitness in mind, here’s the side we see Steve Bruce going with come 7.30pm:
(4-4-1-1): Gillespie – Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie – Murphy, Hendrick, S Longstaff, Fraser – Almiron – Joelinton.
OUT – Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lewis, Hayden, Shelvey, ASM, Carroll, Wilson
IN – Gillespie, Krafth, Clark, Ritchie, S Longstaff, Murphy, Fraser, Almiron, Joelinton
To begin with, it’s worth noting that Bruce said this during his Monday morning press conference, naming SEVEN players who are set to start:
“I’ll rotate, but when I look at the squad, and the players we’ve got coming into it … Joelinton will play, (Miguel) Almiron will play, Ryan Fraser will play, Matt Ritchie will play, (Sean) Longstaff will play, Ciaran Clark will come back into the team, Emil Krafth, who is a Swedish international, will play.“
Elsewhere, he also told BBC Newcastle that Gillespie would come in for Darlow, meaning both he and Fraser look set to make their debuts.
Yedlin could yet play at left-back (I can’t see Lewis playing three times in 7 days, Dummett is injured and the American was spotted playing here over pre-season), with Ritchie playing on the right-wing instead, however this is surely Bruce’s chance to take a proper look at Jacob Murphy?
The same applies to Dan Barlaser. I really hope he starts after he too had a brilliant loan spell and impressed over pre-season, however I can see the ultra-fit Jeff Hendrick moving into his more favoured position alongside Sean Longstaff.
At the back, Lascelles may be selected alongside the returning Ciaran Clark in a bid to boost his fitness after missing our final pre-season friendly through suspension and several months before that following ankle surgery.
At the top end of the pitch, Wilson and Carroll will almost certainly be saved for Sunday after combining well at West Ham, meaning Almiron could play just off Joelinton in attack.
The Brazilian isn’t a striker, but with Gayle injured and Muto about to sign for Eibar, he’s almost certain to lead the line as he aims to get match fit after barely featuring in pre-season.
What side do you see Bruce going with tonight? Let us know!