As we await this weekend’s clash with Wolves, the only thing left to ponder is what side Steve Bruce will select on that back of that late collapse and passive performance against Man Utd last time out.
With form, fitness and Steve Bruce’s pre-match comments in mind, here’s the side I can see starting at Molineux come 4.30pm on Sunday:
Predicted NUFC XI (4-4-1-1): Darlow – Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis – Fraser, Hendrick, Hayden, Saint-Maximin – Almiron – Wilson.
OUT – Krafth, Shelvey, Joelinton
IN – Manquillo, Fraser, Almiron
Starting with Darlow, he’s been described as ’50/50′ by Steve Bruce for this one, but because it’s bruising and not a muscle injury, I can see him declaring himself fit to play.
At the back, Lascelles and Fernandez should continue as our first-choice pairing in the middle, with Lewis down the left, but I can see Manquillo coming back in.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bruce stuck with Krafth, but the Swede struggled badly against Man Utd. Manquillo is quicker and better equipped to deal with Wolves’ pace, not to mention the fact he’s established himself as our best right-back over the past 18 months.
Hayden was forced off last Saturday, but the fact it was cramp and not a strain means he’s likely to join Darlow in passing a late test.
If he makes it, he won’t be partnered by Jonjo Shelvey, however, with the midfielder ruled out with a groin injury, meaning Hendrick seems likely to keep his place – unless Sean Longstaff is recalled after overcoming tonsillitis.
Then to the interesting bit and the one area of the pitch Steve Bruce is under pressure to get right this weekend – the front four.
I’m quite certain Almiron will receive a recall and start, and think it’s about time Bruce also threw a fit-again Fraser into his side, meaning both Joelinton and Hendrick could drop out.
So, Almiron in the No 10 role, with Saint-Maximin down one side, Fraser on the other and Callum Wilson up top. For me, that’s probably our best attack when everyone’s fit, but will Bruce be brave enough to finally go with it? I really do hope so!