As we count down the hours to tonight’s crucial clash with Wolves, it’s time to predict what our starting 11 could look like come 8pm.
Keeping injuries, form and last week’s display at Man Utd in mind, here’s the team I think Steve Bruce will go with:
(4-3-1-2): Dubravka – Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Willock, Hayden, Shelvey – Almiron – Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.
OUT – Darlow and Lewis?
IN – Dubravka and Dummett?
Bruce refused to give a definite answer on the goalkeeping situation in his press conference on Friday, but The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards claims Dubravka is all set to come in for Darlow.
Our stand-in stopper has been brilliant in the Slovakian’s absence, however the time has come for us to start our best players – and Dubravka is one of them. The big thing he adds for me is the ability to organise his defence in front of him, being more vocal and a greater calming influence than Darlow.
At the back, it seems like this one will come just too soon for Manquillo and Fernandez, but I would not be surprised if Dummett comes in at left-back. Bruce insisted that our rarely seen Geordie would have a big role to play over the run-in after he helped keep Southampton at bay a few weeks back, so he could be tasked to deal with one of Neto or Traore – wingers who’d be fancying their chances should a fragile Lewis keep his place!
I don’t see any changes coming in midfield – despite the fact either of the Longstaff’s would be far more capable of pressing than Shelvey – and think we’ll also go with the same front three that started at Man Utd.
Most would sooner see Gayle or Fraser start in Wilson’s absence, but the former struggled badly and Chelsea and the latter made zero impact from the bench at Old Trafford, so I can see Joelinton being given the nod.
For what it’s worth, I thought he did a decent job before he was forced off, with us immediately looking more disjointed the moment he made way.
How do you see us lining up?