With tonight’s clash with Sheffield United fast approaching, it’s time to predict the side we’ll see start our final home game of the 2020/21 season.
Keeping injuries, suspensions and last week’s 4-3 defeat to Man City in mind, here’s the 11 we can see Bruce going with come 6pm – along with a few selection dilemmas that could be on his mind:
(5-3-2): Dubravka – Murphy, Krafth, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie – Willock, Shelvey (c), Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.
If I had to put my house on it, I’d say Steve Bruce sticks with the same side that ran Man City close last Friday, however he does have a few intriguing selection dilemmas to consider.
Does Emil Krafth keep his place or will Ciaran Clark return? Will Jamal Lewis be handed a rare start and chance to rebuild his confidence levels against a very beatable Blades side or does Bruce stick with the tried and tested Matt Ritchie? Does U23 star Elliot Anderson finally get his long-awaited Premier League debut? Will we see a St James’ Park send off for Andy Carroll?
There’s also forgotten man Matty Longstaff – a player who, for some reason, hasn’t kicked a ball in the Premier League since January!
It’d be nice if Bruce gave Shelvey a ‘rest’ and handed Matty a rare start – a local lad like Anderson who deserves more game time than he’s getting – however it seems the stand-in skipper is undroppable these days.
I’d like to think Bruce will mix it up slightly, as this seems like the ideal chance to blood in our best youngsters, give Carroll more than 2 minutes of action and hand the likes of Lewis a welcome boost ahead of next season.
Not only that, I’d question if we need to go with five at the back, with a third centre-back in Krafth seeming a little unnecessary against a Sheffield United side there to be beaten!
How do you see us lining up? Are you expecting an unchanged side or a few changes now we’re finally safe? Let us know!