Newcastle go in search of their first win of the Premier League season as they host league leaders Chelsea at St James’ Park on Saturday.
The Magpies are 19th in the table heading into the match and are yet to pick up their first victory of the campaign, drawing four and losing five of their nine games to date.
Graeme Jones picked up a point in his first match in charge last weekend, drawing 1-1 at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.
The interim head coach must make some tough selection calls to fight for a result against Thomas Tuchel’s side, and one key change he could make is taking Ciaran Clark out of the team. The 32-year-old’s time in the starting XI should be up after another disappointing performance in the draw with Palace.
Jones must now ruthlessly axe the Republic of Ireland international from the team and bring in a replacement in an attempt to improve the defence. Clark recorded a dismal SofaScore rating of 6.3 against Patrick Vieira’s men as he only completed 53% of his passes and lost a crucial battle with Christian Benteke for the Palace goal.
Following the defeat to Tottenham earlier this month, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher criticised the Newcastle back four, including Clark, and claimed that they are Championship standard.
He said: “The new owners have got major work keeping this team up. It is one of the worst teams in the Premier League. They have conceded more goals than anyone in the league – 19 goals.
“This back four is a Championship back four. These players were all playing in the Championship in 2017 for Newcastle.
“They are not good enough for this level. Matt Ritchie is playing left-back when he was bought as a right winger in the Championship.”
It is hard to argue with Carragher’s assessment of the centre-back due to his form this season. The £37k-per-week dud has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.57 in the Premier League this term – the lowest score in the squad in terms of central defenders. This suggests that he has not been performing to a high enough standard and seems to support the Sky Sports pundit’s criticism.
Clark has been given seven starts to show that he is good enough to be a regular fixture in the XI and has let Steve Bruce and now Jones down with his performances. This is why he should be ruthlessly axed from the team to allow another player to come in and prove that they can do a better job, starting with Saturday’s clash against Chelsea.