Liam Kennedy’s Newcastle United XI at Aston Villa - with FOUR key changes

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GOALKEEPER: FREDDIE WOODMAN

The 24-year-old made his long-awaited Premier League debut on Sunday against West Ham, saving a penalty. His nerves will undoubtedly have been settled in the encounter, although he’ll be hoping for a much cleaner sheet in the Midlands.

RIGHT WING BACK: JACOB MURPHY

Given little help by those around him, although he also gave West Ham’s left-hand side far too much time and space. A goal but a shaky defensive show first up - his attacking quality means he keeps his place.

RIGHT CENTRAL DEFENDER: FEDERICO FERNANDEZ

A slight shift out of position to the right of the back three, although it doesn’t suit him, is a must to fit the skipper back in.

Hasn’t looked the same player in 2021, if the truth be told.

CENTRAL DEFENDER: JAMAAL LASCELLES

His fitness has been in question this summer, but after a four-goal defensive horror show against the Hammers the time is right to take Lascelles off the bench and into the side.

Bruce has hinted the skipper will be straight back in this weekend.

LEFT CENTRAL DEFENDER: FABIAN SCHAR

The Switzerland international is another who isn’t best suited on the left of a three and isn’t exactly trusted by Bruce, with the head coach thinking his defensive discipline isn’t up to scratch.

But is he a better player than Ciaran Clark? The answer is almost certainly yes. His progressive passing could be key, too, with no Jonjo Shelvey.

LEFT WING BACK: JAMAL LEWIS

Defensively, neither Newcastle left-back has covered themselves in glory in recent times. But with Matt Ritchie struggling so much against West Ham, it might be time to give younger, fresher, more mobile and energetic Lewis a second shot.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: ISAAC HAYDEN

Not the perfect fit for the midfield pivot but with Schar back in the side (see earlier) he might not be needed to fill the ‘pass master’ role like Shelvey.

RIGHT NO.8: JOE WILLOCK

Bruce refused to be drawn on whether he would throw his new £25million midfielder in from the start, but injury to Jonjo Shelvey has likely forced his hand, even though he was likely minded to do so anyway.

LEFT NO.8: MIGUEL ALMIRON

The Paraguayan is a ‘shoe in’ for United, even if this deeper role does not play to his strengths. Energy and positive running from deep can get Newcastle from A to B quickly, especially away from home.

FORWARD: ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN

Despite having an on-off summer, the Frenchman looks bang up for it this campaign judging by his West Ham show. Can strike fear into any defence in the land. More of the same is required if the Magpies are to walk away from Villa Park with anything.

FORWARD: CALLUM WILSON

One goal down, 20 to go for the striker, who set the ambitious target for the season this summer. Thing is, his talents can match that tally but his fitness maybe doesn’t. Needs to keep fit - his target and United’s top flight status probably depends on it.

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