With kick off now just hours away, it time to predict the side Steve Bruce will select ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup quarter final at Brentford!
Keeping in mind form, fitness, our hectic schedule and today’s opponents, here’s the team I think Steve Bruce might just go with come 5.30pm:
Predicted NUFC XI (4-4-2): Gillespie – Krafth, Hayden, Clark, Lewis – Murphy, Hendrick, Shelvey, Fraser – Wilson, Gayle.
OUT – Darlow, Yedlin, Fernandez, Dummett, S Longstaff, Ritchie, Almiron, Joelinton?
IN – Gillespie, Krafth, Hayden, Lewis, Hendrick, Fraser, Murphy, Gayle?
Starting in goal, Gillespie has started all of our EFL Cup games so far and has generally done a very solid job (aside from his error vs Newport!), so he seems likely to continue in goal.
At the back, I can see Krafth returning after being given a rest in our last two, with Lewis also likely to return at left-back. Both have struggled this season, but Manquillo remains out and Dummett won’t start twice in a few days after so long on the sidelines.
Hayden will then be forced to fill in at centre-back alongside Clark, as Bruce reckons “fatigue” will keep Fernandez out of this one following his half-time withdrawal over the weekend.
In midfield, I’ve got a feeling Matty Longstaff will be handed a rare start, but with Shelvey recently rested against Leeds (and key to creating from deep) and Hendrick fresh after missing out v Fulham, I can see those two forming our midfield duo.
In attack, Fraser will surely return after creating our two goals at Leeds only to find himself on the bench against Fulham. He should start on the left, and I can see Murphy getting a big chance to impress down the right, with his pace and improved final ball capable of causing them problems in Saint-Maximin’s prolonged absence.
Up top, Wilson may be pushed to his limit playing FOUR games in 10 days so soon after a recent hamstring injury, but the pre-match signs are that he’s told Steve Bruce he wants to play. It could backfire, but I can’t see us going without our top scorer when we’re a win away from Wembley.
I can also see Gayle coming in – a player whose record against Championship opposition speaks for itself!
I initially wondered if Carroll would be given a rare start after a month watching on from the bench, but he doesn’t have the mobility to hurt an attacking Brentford side who’ll probably have us playing on the counter!
How do you see us lining up when the teams are announced at 4.30pm?