How do Newcastle United fill Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron-sized holes in their XI?
Newcastle United head to Manchester United this weekend with fans calling for changes. Here we take a look at the changes Steve Bruce could make to his Magpies’ XI - both enforced and otherwise.
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The last international break before the end of the 2020/21 season saw Steve Bruce, ably assisted by tactician Graeme Jones, transform Newcastle United from a laboured-looking split strikers unit, to a more attacking and defensively robust 5-3-2 setup.
Will Bruce and Jones use the first break of the 2021/22 campaign to do something similar? Well, it’ll be there for all to see at Old Trafford this Saturday, as the Magpies look to somehow, however unlikely, turn around their first win of the new season, at the fifth attempt.
While systems are under scrutiny - as per this piece on ‘square pegs in round holes’ from last week - personnel changes could well be in the offing also.
Here’s a number of changes Bruce may make, enforced or not.
Freddie Woodman OUT - Karl Darlow IN
Does Woodman deserve to lose the shirt? Probably not. But has he done enough to make it his own? Again, not really.
After an international break to recover fully, could Darlow be back in the mix this weekend? Only time will tell on that one, but suggestions are he will be in contention.
And given his seniority, you’d expect him to be back as No.1, not Woodman’s stand-in.
Miguel Almiron OUT - Isaac Hayden/Jeff Hendrick IN
Will FIFA stop the Paraguayan playing at Old Trafford, given United did not allow Almiron to travel for his country’s World Cup qualifiers?
When the club were asked for information on this, they refused to comment. That’s never a good sign.
If FIFA clamp down, as has been suggested, and Almiron is ineligible, you’d expect Hayden, if fit, and Hendrick to come back into Bruce’s thoughts.
Callum Wilson OUT - Joelinton IN
This is the stuff of nightmares - and by the way, that’s no slight on Joelinton.
Losing Wilson for any period of time this season is a disaster as he’s the only player in the whole squad capable and proven to score goals at Premier League level.
His thigh injury doesn’t sound good - it’s one he’s been carrying for a while by all accounts - and it might see him miss more than just Manchester United this weekend. Fingers crossed his recovery this last week has improved his situation significantly. Newcastle United NEED him.
Fabian Schar/Jamaal Lascelles OUT - Paul Dummett IN
If United persist with three at the back, on paper, the man it suits the most in the defensive unit is Paul Dummett.
Always looked more of a centre-half at left-back and vice versa when played inside in a four. But in a three he ticks both boxes.
It also suits Schar, although if Bruce were to make a change, the most likely to drop out in the three would be the Swiss. However, skipper Lascelles’ two point-costing penalty errors in the last two can’t be overlooked.
Jacob Murphy OUT - Javier Manquillo IN
This is probably the least likely of the changes.
For some reason Bruce doesn’t often turn to Manquillo these days. And despite a poor start to the season for Murphy, who has looked all at sixes and sevens defensively, and a positive show for the Spaniard in the Carabao Cup, it seems more likely Manquillo will continue.