A few days on from our 2-0 loss at Manchester City, it’s time to predict what our starting 11 might look like ahead of tonight’s clash with Liverpool at St James’ Park.
Keeping form, fitness, our hectic schedule and tonight’s opponents in mind, here’s the team I think Steve Bruce might go with come 8pm:
(5-4-1): Darlow – Manquillo, Fernandez, Schar, Clark, Lewis – Murphy, Hayden, M Longstaff, Almiron – Wilson.
OUT – Ritchie, Yedlin, Joelinton?
IN – Lewis, Manquillo, Wilson?
It seems Lascelles won’t be ready to return for this one and Dummett isn’t well, so it seems likely that Bruce goes with the same three centre-backs. Hayden could slot in if Schar can’t play twice in a few days, but the former may be needed in midfield for this one.
With Ritchie struggling at Man City and not having the pace to cope with the likes of Mo Salah, I can see Jamal Lewis coming back in after a rest over the weekend. That said, the former Norwich star will need to be more more switched on if he’s to play against the Egyptian goal machine!
At right wing-back, Yedlin actually did ok at Man City, however I’ve noticed that Manquillo has been in training for over a week now. With Krafth taking a while to recover from COVID and Murphy needed out wide now ASM and Fraser are out, I think the Spaniard may make a surprise return to the starting XI. Considering he’s proven himself to be our best right-back in recent years, it would be a boost IF he’s fit enough!
In midfield, Bruce would be silly to bring Shelvey straight back in to play against his former club. Not only has he got a “very sore” groin after “playing too many games” (Bruce’s comments after the City defeat), he’s not a player who can offer the intensity and energy needed to cope with an industrious Liverpool midfield.
Matty Longstaff actually did little wrong at Man city, especially considering it was his first Premier League start of the season, so it would be very harsh if he was to drop out of the side. Hayden may well need a rest, meaning Sean could come back in, however I’d like to see him partner Matty again if he’s ok to go again.
In attack, Wilson seems almost certain to return up top and Jacob Murphy deserves another shot out wide after being by far our most promising attacker at The Etihad.
Almiron was sloppy at the weekend and at fault for their second goal, but he seems likely to start out wide (if it’s another 5-4-1), with Joelinton lacking the pace to hurt Liverpool on the counter and ASM and Fraser ruled out.
How do you see us lining up when the team sheets are released at 7pm today? Let us know!