Steve Bruce must show no mercy and wield the axe on Emil Krafth after the Newcastle United full-back endured a challenging afternoon against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Krafth was given a rare start at St. James’ Park for the visit of Slaven Bilic’s Baggies, having only opened two Premier League fixtures heading into the weekend and not been seen on the field at any stage since October.
Javier Manquillo has often been favoured for the right-back role when Bruce has chosen to name a four-man defence, but was not listed in the 18-man squad for the Toon’s 1-0 win whilst Bruce was without several of his regulars following an outbreak of coronavirus.
Bruce will be blessed with additional options when Newcastle visit Championship title-holders Leeds United on Wednesday night after DeAndre Yedlin made his campaign debut as a late substitute against West Brom.
Yedlin has been shunned to the fringes on Tyneside this term with Saturday’s inclusion in the matchday squad only his third appearance of the season, after Bruce openly admitted the United States international might find it hard to secure minutes as he enters the final year of his £30,000-per-week contract.
Even if Bruce does not feel the same way about Yedlin as he continues to try and stamp his mark on the Toon first-team, the Newcastle boss cannot persist with Krafth in his line-up should Manquillo not be passed fit to face Leeds.
Krafth held the Magpies back in their efforts to beat West Brom on Saturday, as he once again made United’s £5million investment appear as nothing but a disastrous decision of Bruce’s first window in charge last year.
The 26-year-old arrived as a player previously praised for his physicality with Roar Hansen, who managed Krafth at both Osters and Helsingborgs, telling the Chronicle: “He developed very good, he played all the games.
“He is a physical, quick player. He improved with the ball at the time and he is not the most talented player I ever worked with, but he always worked hard. He always wanted to be better, always listened to the coaches and the more experienced players.”
Either Krafth is not listening to his coaches and the experienced heads in the Newcastle dressing room, or he simply is not cut out for Premier League football. He emptied the tank trying to make an impact against West Brom, but left the pitch in the 80th-minute to make the Toon better.
Krafth offered no successful tackles or interceptions during his time on the field, was dribbled past once and lost possession 15 times. He failed to find teammates with either of his four crosses or four long balls, and made just one successful dribble, per SofaScore.
Only 15 of his total passes were deemed to have been aimed forward in the final third, per WhoScored, while Matt Phillips was easily able to skip away from the 24-cap Sweden international before delivering a cross into the area for Darnell Furlong to score West Brom’s equalising goal.
Bruce simply must see that Newcastle cannot rely on Krafth if he hopes to take a result at Elland Road.