As we count down the hours to tonight’s crucial clash with Brighton, it’s time to predict how we’ll line up when the team sheets are released at 7pm.
Keeping injuries, form and last week’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in mind, here’s the team I think Steve Bruce will go with at The Amex:
(4-3-1-2): Dubravka – Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Willock, Shelvey, Hayden – Fraser – Joelinton, Murphy.
I would love to see Almiron back in the side – he’s been our best player since the turner of the year for me and the key cog in this 4-3-1-2 formation – however I think he’ll start on the bench.
Manquillo IN, Krafth OUT? – Bruce said that Manquillo didn’t start in last week’s draw with Aston Villa because he was ‘erring on the side of caution’ regarding his recent recovery from an ankle injury. With this a must-win game and Krafth limited at both ends of the pitch, you’d like to think Bruce will bring the club’s best right-back into the side for this one!
Murphy IN, Gayle OUT? – The latter may have been the victim of a manager who decided to play him out wide last week, but it’s fair to say Murphy offered more in 10 minutes than Gayle did all night against Villa. Murphy looks hungry, hard working, direct and has the pace to hurt a slow Brighton defence on the break.
Elsewhere, I feel Shelvey’s lack of mobility could be found out if Brighton move the ball quickly and dominate possession as they so often do, but with Hendrick no better and the two Longstaff’s frozen out at present, I’d expect our midfield to be unchanged.
In attack, I’d like to see Almiron in the false 9 role (if fit!), with Murphy and Fraser wide. No strikers but three players who’d possess the pace to hurt Brighton on the break. That said, Bruce has talked up Joelinton ahead of this one and defended his promising yet wasteful display against Aston Villa, so that combined with his height from set pieces (Brighton have plenty giants!) could see the Brazilian stay in the side.
Whatever happens, Jacob Murphy deserves a start, having changed the game last week before bagging a crucial late assist for Lascelles’ leveller.
How do you see us lining up later on? Let us know in the comments below!