Newcastle United welcome Fulham to St. James’ Park on Saturday night looking to bounce back from their 5-2 humbling at Leeds.
The Magpies had begun to build a run of form with wins over Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion before visiting Elland Road, where Steve Bruce’s side were outpassed, outthought and outworked from the first kick of the game to the last.
Bruce will be looking for a response from his players when the Cottagers descend on Tyneside, but will have to consider changes to his starting line-up with a three-day turnaround and a vital Carabao Cup quarter-final looming.
So, with changes almost certain to avoid further physical damage on a squad still recovering from coronavirus, here’s a predicted XI Bruce could name against Scott Parker’s Fulham…
Bruce has confirmed he has no new injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Parker’s relegation-threatened side, but conceded that he fears fatigue and illness will see a few miss the next couple of weeks.
Karl Darlow should expect to start in goal with Martin Dubravka still sidelined through injury alongside Allan Saint-Maximin, while Paul Dummett’s absence should see Jamal Lewis retain his spot at left-back despite leaving fans irate with a horror show performance at Leeds.
Jacob Murphy will likely not be as fortunate at right-back, despite offering Bruce some positives at Elland Road going forward, as he was unable to bring the defensive support needed that DeAndre Yedlin would supply should he earn his first Premier League start of the season.
Sean Longstaff, who Rafa Benitez once praised as being “very humble” and hardworking, totally crumbled in West Yorkshire after his mistake gifted Leeds the chance to break for their third goal of the game and must be replaced against Fulham.
Jonjo Shelvey is the most likely name to feature alongside Isaac Hayden after sitting out the Elland Road affair given the quick turnaround between fixtures.
Miguel Almiron also only made the bench against Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites and will expect to be recalled to face the Cottagers, joining Ryan Fraser in the starting line-up after the former AFC Bournemouth winger registered a joint-team high three key balls against Leeds.
Dwight Gayle was unable to deliver the same impact from the bench at Elland Road that he brought against West Brom, leaving Bruce with no choice but to retain faith in Joelinton partnering top-scorer Callum Wilson despite the Brazilian only scoring once in 11 league games.