Newcastle United host Leicester City at St. James’ Park on Sunday looking to snap a five-game winless streak against one of the Premier League’s top-four sides.
Steve Bruce will be without influential midfielder Isaac Hayden for the Foxes’ trip to Tyneside after the Arsenal product was shown a fifth yellow card of the top-flight season last time out against Liverpool.
The Magpies were able to claim a point at home to Jurgen Klopp’s Reds with a supreme defensive showcase, but had lost two of their previous three league fixtures and were eliminated from the Carabao Cup by Championship side Brentford in a solemn festive run.
In Bruce’s search for a first win since a late Dwight Gayle effort beat West Bromwich Albion in December, the United boss will have to consider changes. So, with that in mind, here’s a potential line-up the Magpies could field at home to Leicester on Sunday…
Karl Darlow will expect to maintain his 100% record between the sticks against the Foxes having recorded a third clean sheet of the season at home to Liverpool, but he will be aware that Martin Dubravka is back breathing down his neck ahead of a potential return from injury in next week’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal.
Bruce is unlikely to favour changes to the five-strong defence which thwarted Klopp’s champions, either, with captain Jamaal Lascelles also eying the Emirates encounter for his return after testing positive for coronavirus.
Though Hayden’s absence will force alterations in the engine room, with Sean Longstaff likely to earn a recall to the starting line-up for the first time since drawing 1-1 with Fulham.
Longstaff has watched the Toon’s last two Premier League fixtures from the bench whilst his younger brother, Matty Longstaff, returned to the senior fold, yet should partner the 20-year-old and Jonjo Shelvey versus the Foxes.
Bruce had started Longstaff in Newcastle’s prior seven top-flight matches, but struggled to see the talent Jamie Redknapp once lauded as a “bright kid” and reminded the Sky Sports pundit of former Manchester United play-maker Michael Carrick.
A change to a three-man midfield line with Jacob Murphy falling out of favour would see Joelinton return to partner Callum Wilson upfront after playing the full 90 minutes against Liverpool at left-midfield.
Joelinton scored his sole Premier League goal of the season back in November against Crystal Palace, while summer signing Wilson has found the net on eight occasions but only once in his last four outings.