With the international break over and today’s clash with Spurs just a few hours away, it’s time to predict what our starting 11 could look like at St James’ Park today.
Keeping fitness and recent form in mind, here’s the side I’m backing Steve Bruce to select this afternoon:
(4-3-1-2): Dubravka – Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Hendrick, Shelvey, Willock – Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Fraser.
The obvious absentee is Wilson, however Bruce’s pre-match comments suggest this one will come too soon for the striker.
Hendrick IN, Hayden OUT? – It’s not the swap we want to see, but Bruce somehow seems to have Hendrick ahead of the two Longstaff’s in the midfield pecking order. Personally, I’d bring Sean Longstaff back in, however he’s played just 14 minutes over the past two months!
Saint-Maximin IN, Joelinton OUT? – It remains to be seen if ASM will be fit enough to start, but with this one looking set to come too soon for Wilson, Bruce will need the Frenchman’s spark to beat Spurs. Not only that, we need to change things up after that dismal display at Brighton – a game that saw our £40m Brazilian have a stinker. A front three of Fraser, Almiron and ASM would see us go without a recognised striker once again, but their blend of pace, creativity and explosiveness might just hurt a Mourinho side that don’t like to be ran at.
Elsewhere, Federico Fernandez may earn a recall if Bruce decides to switch up the defence, while Jacob Murphy, Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle will be hoping for rare starts after failing to make the XI that failed to turn up at The Amex almost two weeks ago – not that any seem likely to come in if ASM is ready.
How do you see us lining up?