Newcastle United are expecting Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey to be back available for selection at Sheffield United on Tuesday as Steve Bruce issues a raft of changes from the side which lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup.
The Magpies are now winless in the last month with five defeats and two draws in their past seven fixtures, while being eliminated from both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup in the space of 18 days.
Wilson and Shelvey failed to feature at the Emirates on Saturday, where their replacements squandered a string of chances to seal a rare victory over the Gunners and were punished by extra-time goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But Bruce faces selection dilemmas across the field ahead of travelling to Bramall Lane, a ground where he has won on four of five previous visits. So, with that in mind, here’s a potential line-up the 60-year-old could favour…
Martin Dubravka made his first appearance of the season at Arsenal after a heel injury but is likely to return to the bench against Sheffield United in place of Karl Darlow, with the £25,000-per-week ‘keeper impressing far beyond his three clean sheets throughout the campaign.
Jamaal Lascelles also earned his first start since November in north London after testing positive for coronavirus, and will likely be a gameday decision after being taken off at the break following an early yellow card for a foul on Reiss Nelson.
Matt Ritchie replaced Lascelles at half-time for his 10th outing of the term and will likely start at left-back against the Blades, with Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez expected to be recalled to central defence after sitting out the Arsenal defeat.
Andy Carroll led the line against Arsenal but was wasted in the capital by Bruce’s defensive tactics, which left the rumoured West Bromwich Albion target to drop deep until the closing stages when he let two clear cut chances to steal the win go to waste.
Yet the 6 ft 4 target man may be one of only four players to be retained from the Gunners defeat, allowing Bruce to partner the returning Wilson with a strike partner as he looks to ease the burden on the Toon’s eight-goal top-scorer.
Like Wilson, Shelvey is expected to be given a role in the starting line-up for the first time since Newcastle drew 1-1 with Fulham last month, potentially joining Isaac Hayden in the engine room against Sheffield United.
Miguel Almiron could only produce one key pass at the Emirates on Saturday but may be considered for a central role at Bramall Lane to help connect the Magpies’ strikers and midfield in a side that has scored just four goals in their last seven games.