Steve Bruce has confirmed he will make changes to the side which beat West Bromwich Albion when Newcastle United visit Leeds on Wednesday night.
The Toon are still feeling the effects of a coronavirus outbreak, but are eager not to overuse those available for selection after Isaac Hayden battled through at the weekend despite being “knocked to hell” and left bed-ridden for 10 days.
Bruce admitted he found it “frightening” to see how quickly the virus took effect of the players who contracted Covid-19, and will now have to manage the workload of those recovering as fatigue begins to set in.
Newcastle will be without several of their usual starters at Elland Road, with Bruce confirming that Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, Javier Manquillo and Allan Saint-Maximin will not make the trip to West Yorkshire.
However, the Magpies have received more positive news on a handful of others. So, with that in mind, here’s a line-up Bruce could name against Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites…
Karl Darlow has stood up to the task of keeping Newcastle’s goal clear of danger while the Magpies manage without Martin Dubravka, with the 30-year-old performing at such a level that the Slovakian may struggle to regain the starting gig once he has overcome a heel injury.
Though Darlow will likely find a new name lining up at centre-half, with Bruce sharing that Hayden, who Southend academy manager Ricky Duncan lauds as “a gifted footballer”, will need a rest after starring in Saturday’s win over West Brom.
“Hayden is tired. He climbed out of bed to play against West Brom,” Bruce said, via quotes by Sky Sports’ Keith Downie. “Isaac is arguably our fittest player, so it just shows you that this thing [Covid-19] has no boundaries.”
He added, via quotes by the Chronicle: “I am looking at the three or four who played at the weekend. The one thing I am looking at is fatigue. With that in mind, I will look to make two or three changes.”
Bruce had better news on Frederico Fernandez, confirming that the Argentine has recovered from coronavirus and will be in the squad to face Leeds alongside the returning Ryan Fraser following his hamstring injury.
The ex-Bournemouth winger will only make the bench, allowing for Jacob Murphy to replace Miguel Almiron at right-midfield after delivering a delightful inch-perfect cross for Dwight Gayle to glance home the winning goal against the Baggies at the weekend.
Almiron fared well against Slaven Bilic’s side but the same could not be said for Sean Longstaff, who offered no dribbles, successful aerial duels, key balls or tackles on Saturday, per SofaScore, and will find his starting role under threat as Bruce looks to make changes.
Emil Krafth will also face Bruce’s axe after struggling in Saturday’s win, opening an avenue for DeAndre Yedlin to earn his first start of the league season after coming off the bench to make his campaign debut late on against West Brom.
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