Newcastle United have a great chance to put distance between themselves and the Premier League relegation zone when they visit Burnley on Sunday after Fulham were beaten 1-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Steve Bruce’s Magpies can move six points clear of the bottom three and retain a game in hand over the Cottagers with a win at Turf Moor, where Sean Dyche’s Clarets have failed to win their last six top-flight games.
However, Newcastle have struggled for results on their travels all season, with the St James’ Park outfit winning just three of their 15 away league games – only West Bromwich Albion (two) and Sheffield United (one) have won fewer.
Bruce faces a number of selection decisions as players return from injuries and some head for the treatment room. With that in mind, here’s a potential line-up the Toon may field at Burnley…
Newcastle will arrive at Turf Moor brimming with confidence after taking a point at home to Tottenham Hotspur last time out, but will be expected to make as many as four changes from the line-up which faced Jose Mourinho’s side.
Jamaal Lascelles opened the Spurs affair in central defence alongside Paul Dummett and Emil Krafth but has been ruled out of the Burnley game with a fractured foot, while Krafth is likely to be replaced after struggling in a centre-back role.
Ciaran Clark could come back into the team after watching last weekend’s game from the bench, while Federico Fernandez is expected to be available for his first appearance since January following a spell out with a calf injury.
Matt Ritchie came in for his first appearance since a training ground bust-up with Bruce to start at left-back against Spurs while Jacob Murphy thrived at right-back, and both will expect to retain their roles in front of Martin Dubravka’s net.
“Matty played very well. I never hold a grudge – our row is forgotten,” Bruce said after the Spurs draw, via quotes shared by The Guardian. “That’s the best we’ve played for a long, long time, so there’s a tinge of disappointment we didn’t win.”
Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff will be expected to retain their positions in midfield, with Joe Willock returning to the starting line-up to occupy the right-hand role of the three-man line after scoring the late equaliser against Spurs.
Miguel Almiron started in a deeper role against Tottenham but will likely move back into an advanced position to pull the strings behind the strikers, with Bruce potentially able to field his first-choice front three for the first time since beating Southampton 3-2 on February 6.
Bruce lost Callum Wilson to a hamstring injury 36 minutes into the Saints affair and has been without Newcastle’s 10-goal top scorer since, but is hopeful the ex-Bournemouth frontman – who Kevin Phillips has described as “excellent” – has now overcome his issue.
“I’m sure everyone’s asking about whether Callum and Allan [Saint-Maximin] will be in the squad,” Bruce said on Friday. “We’ve still got two days of training – we train today and tomorrow [Saturday] – but Callum and Allan have trained all week, so that’s good news for us that they’re available.”
Bruce starting Wilson and Saint-Maximin will see Dwight Gayle and Joelinton drop out of the team, despite the latter scoring the opener against Tottenham for his first Premier League goal in 15 appearances.
However, Wilson can offer Newcastle a game-changing option, who Rob Lee exclusively told Football FanCast: “He makes a difference, it’s genuinely that simple. Out of all the clubs down the bottom, no one [else] has got a goalscorer [like him].”