Looking ahead to Saturday afternoon’s Newcastle team v Southampton.
Steve Bruce comes into this game on the back of a thirteen game run with only one victory.
Ten defeats and two draws, with the latest loss to Crystal Palace on Tuesday night despite leading after less than two minutes on the clock.
We got a fair bit of guidance from the Steve Bruce pre-match press conference, as to which players would and wouldn’t be available for this Newcastle team v Southampton.
The NUFC Head Coach confirming that both Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez will be missing once again.
Steve Bruce adding that Paul Dummett is another set to be unavailable due to injury / fitness issues, whilst Jamal Lewis now has a hamstring injury and also set to be missing.
Just to add to the defensive issues, Bruce said that Ciaran Clark is also a doubt as he was missing training on Friday after his partner went into labour.
To help give a starting point, this was the 20 man Newcastle United squad that was selected against Crystal Palace on Tuesday:
Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Clark, Lewis, Hayden, Hendrick, Shelvey, Fraser, Almiron, Wilson (Subs Dubravka, Dummett, M Longstaff, Carroll, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin, Gayle, Krafth, Anderson)
We are all wondering whether Steve Bruce will one day put Dubravka back in, he is the better keeper but Darlow hasn’t done a lot wrong. Maybe that change could be today but the odds are against it I think.
Steve Bruce likes to paint a picture of how he has got a job against the world, ahead of every match.
The defensive ‘nightmare’ will end up I believe with simply Ritchie in at left-back, arguably a better defensive option than Lewis anyway at the minute, whilst I will be surprised if (so long as everything has gone well with his partner and the birth) it isn’t Clark alongside Schar in the middle.
That would allow Hayden to play in midfield where he surely has to play regardless, if Clark was missing I would rather throw in Krafth at centre-back than take our best midfielder out of the midfield as Bruce has often done.
Shelvey not a choice of mine but he certainly will be for Steve Bruce, whilst I fully expect him to throw Joe Willock straight in, to hopefully give Newcastle some legs in the middle of the pitch against the likes of the excellent Ward-Prowse.
Wilson will play (and no doubt be involved in any goals if we manage to score any!), whilst Almiron is another certainty.
Ryan Fraser was Newcastle’s most creative player on Tuesday night but even Steve Bruce must recognise that after playing so little football and having so many fitness / injury issues, Fraser needs to be benched after starting three games in a week.
After his sub appearances, Allan Saint-Maximin will surely come in, then Ryan Fraser can be the one available as an impact sub.
Making the predicted Newcastle team v Southampton look something like this:
Steve Bruce will be desperately hoping for a win with Chelsea and Man Utd away to follow, failure to win today would very likely then lead to one victory in sixteen games.