Newcastle United host Norwich City at St. James’ Park in the Premier League tonight in a mammoth clash at the bottom of the Premier League table.
The Canaries are two points ahead of the Magpies coming into the game and have the chance to go five clear, whilst potentially going level with 17th by the end of the night. Whereas, Eddie Howe’s team could leapfrog Norwich and put themselves right back in the mix to avoid the drop.
One change the ex-Bournemouth coach must make is to bring Jamal Lewis into the side for his time to shine at left-back for the suspended Matt Ritchie. The Scot will be forced to watch on from the stands after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at The Emirates against Arsenal at the weekend.
Although, the suspension may not have mattered as the nature of his performance against the Gunners suggested that he deserved to lose his place. Per SofaScore, he lost all five of his duels on the pitch as he failed to make a single tackle and was dribbled past twice. He only completed 60% of his attempted passes and all four of his crossing and long pass attempts were inaccurate.
Therefore, his fifth booking came at a good time for him and Newcastle, as he now has the opportunity to rest up for a match and ensure that he is back to his best when he is next called upon. It also now opens up the door for Lewis to receive his first start of the campaign.
The Northern Ireland international has played nine minutes off the bench in the Premier League this season and deserves a chance to show what he can do in the team. Playing against the club he came through the ranks at, Norwich, could also be an added motivation for him to impress.
Ex-England striker Darren Bent previously hailed him as a ‘dark horse’ in terms of Premier League left-backs to watch for the future.
He told Football Insider: “Jamal Lewis, when you think about it, defensively I think he’s a little bit better than Max Aarons. I think going forward and defensively he’s very good, and underrated as well.
“I’m telling you, if he keeps progressing at Newcastle, he might be a dark horse. He could turn out to be one of the best left-backs in the country this season.”
This highlights the £10.8m-rated gem’s potential and why Howe should unleash him against Norwich. He could unearth a key player for the side if Lewis is able to find his form and fulfil the promise Bent seemingly believed he has, with this clash with Norwich the perfect chance for him to come in and shine.