Steve Bruce will avoid a major tactical blunder by unleashing Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin on Fulham in Saturday night’s Premier League encounter.
The Toon host Scott Parker’s relegation-threatened Cottagers in the 20:00 kick-off, looking to bounce back from a humiliating 5-2 thrashing at Leeds United on Wednesday night.
Fulham will arrive on Tyneside as one of the top-flight’s most out of form units, with only West Brom, Arsenal and Sheffield United claiming fewer points over the past six games.
Newcastle can move 11-points clear of Fulham with a win, but any hopes of victory will hinge on Bruce correcting for his Elland Road horrors and fielding Yedlin at right-back for his first start of the Premier League season.
Yedlin was given his first minutes of the campaign as a late substitute for Miguel Almiron at home to West Brom last weekend, but was not named in the 18-man squad to face Leeds with Bruce omitting the United States international for a ninth time this term.
Emil Krafth could only make the bench after holding the Magpies back in the 2-1 win over the Baggies, with Jacob Murphy instead called on to play out of position after providing the inch-perfect delivery for Dwight Gayle’s winner over a then-Slaven Bilic led side.
Murphy fared reasonably well when pushing forward against Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites during the week, yet was caught out too often defensively for Bruce to see any reason to retain the 25-year-old for Saturday night’s clash at St. James’ Park.
Yedlin, therefore, is the only solution Bruce can put forward at right-back to beat Fulham, with Javier Manquillo still on the sidelines through injury alongside fellow defenders Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar.
Yedlin impressing at home to Fulham could easily see the £4.5million-rated full-back save his Magpies career, too, with reports Toon chiefs are open to offers to avoid losing him for free at the end of the season when his £30,000-per-week contract expires.
A move away was possible in the summer, as well, but no suitable offers arrived despite interest from Major League Soccer and Turkish clubs, following which Bruce said he had no issues with Yedlin sticking around.
“The most difficult job that I’ve got is keeping everybody happy. Ultimately, we have to make the decision on 22 players. There’s the difficult situation itself,” he said in September, via quotes by the Chronicle.
“I am sure that DeAndre wants to play regularly. We have three recognised right-backs at the club which is not really that healthy, to be honest. However, DeAndre is somebody I like, as a pro, as a player. He just wants to play. I can understand that.”
Bruce must now give Yedlin that chance to play after three months in the wilderness, or risk setting Newcastle up to be attacked when Fulham visit St. James’ Park.