Liam Kennedy’s Newcastle United XI for Burnley - to stick or twist in the Carabao Cup?
Newcastle United take on Burnley this evening in the Carabao Cup with Steve Bruce vowing to play a strong side. Here’s Liam Kennedy’s take on who he’d pick at St James’ Park tonight.
Selection & tactics
Everyone understands the need to get as minutes into your squad as possible, with the Carabao Cup a key early opportunity for that.
But Steve Bruce has to weigh that up with his side’s need to get a win under their belts, especially against an under-strength Burnley side, having lost the opening two in the Premier League.
For me, this game is the perfect opportunity to experiment a little. The status quo hasn’t really worked in the opening two weekends, so why not try something different?
I’d like to see Bruce go to four at the back (4-2-3-1) - and I’d also not against the manager making lots of changes, in a game that often, at this stage, feels like a minor annoyance more than a chance to win silverware.
GOALKEEPER: Mark Gillespie
Freddie Woodman is yet to convince, or otherwise, as No.1 at the start of the season, but like last, Gillespie should be given the opportunity in the cup.
RIGHT-BACK: Javier Manquillo
The lesser-spotted Spaniard is the next best option to Jacob Murphy on the right, and is better suited to a right-hand side role in a four. If played, this would act as an audition for Saturday, no doubt, with Murphy having some early season defensive struggles.
LEFT-BACK: Jamal Lewis
Matt Ritchie’s improved defensive show against Villa, although his delivery success rate was poor, has probably cemented his place in the Premier League XI for now. So, Lewis needs minutes in the cup competitions.
CENTRE-BACK: Jamaal Lascelles
It is a real statement of intent to still pick your skipper, even if you make changes elsewhere. And that’s what I’d do for this one. Lascelles is United’s leader and should be in the side for most, if not all of United’s games, when fit.
CENTRE-BACK: Fabian Schar
Is far from the first choice in a back four, being better suited to a three-man backline, but could do with more minutes and is definitely a better bet than Ciaran Clark, who has looked totally out of sorts for quite some time now.
CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Joe Willock
Not his natural position - couldn’t do it for Arsenal or when asked on occasions for United last season - but needs minutes. Would also give him the chance to show he can play in more than one role the Magpies, outside of the three-man midfield.
CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Sean Longstaff
The exit door looks to be looming for Longstaff but he showed glimpses of why he was so highly valued by the previous manager at Villa Park. In Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden’s absence he can make himself difficult to dislodge in midfield, if he can add some consistency.
RIGHT ATTACKER: Joelinton
Another who looked OK in pre-season - and can use this competition to kick-start his own season. Showed last season he can add value to the team, big question is whether he can keep that up?
LEFT ATTACKER: Ryan Fraser
At this stage last season in the Carabao Cup, Scotland international Fraser proved United’s match-winner - and Bruce will be hoping for the same again, no doubt. An almost certain starter.
NO.10: Miguel Almiron
A player who didn’t see a whole lot of pre-season - and one who has looked a little bit lost so far this campaign. This could be just the kind of confidence boost the player needs, playing in his correct position.
STRIKER: Dwight Gayle
There isn’t really anyone else, to be honest. Not for the central striker role, anyway. If the Gayle who came on against Norwich City is anything to go by, he looks ready to impress. Sadly, that was an anomaly, not the norm, in relation to his performances over the last 12 months.