It is never going to be an exact science when predicting the Newcastle team v Barnsley, or indeed any other Rafa Benitez team selection.
However, the United boss has given us a number of indicators.
Speaking to the media ahead of tonight’s match, Rafa made clear he has no intention of stopping his rotation of the team/squad, insisting that competition brought the best out of the players and it also helped protect against injuries.
The Manager has also made crystal clear that playing two out and out strikers is not in his thoughts, believing that a second striker/attacking midfielder is essential if Newcastle are to control games.
The last time United had Championship games in such quick succession, it was also after an international break, Rafa making four changes for QPR from the team he played at Derby County (both wins).
I have gone for five in my suggested team Rafa will put out, with a complete change of front two – just like Rafa did for that QPR game. I fancy he will go with Diame playing behind and doing much of the running for Mitrovic.
Whilst I would love to see Atsu and Ritchie on the wings, I think the manager will see Gouffran as essential to help Dummett out on the left. However, with Atsu playing with next to no training after international duty at the weekend, with Rafa Benitez declaring Matt Ritchie now fit again after his virus – I see the Scottish international back in the team.
Shelvey is proving the beating heart of the team and after missing a few games, the energy of Hayden could be back alongside him. Colback did ok on Saturday but looks really limited this season.
Benitez also confirmed Jamaal Lascelles would be fine to play after recovering from illness at the weekend which forced him off v Brentford, with Mbemba likely to miss out again through injury, pretty straightforward to have the Captain back alongside the impressive Ciaran Clark. Especially with Grant Hanley looking very ropey when coming on, on Saturday.
Darlow impressed once again, Rafa still doesn’t appear to have a viable alternative for Dummett, though I can see Yedlin adding extra pace on the right. Anita did well again against Brentford but I think this season will see the pair continue to share the full-back slot.
My suggested Newcastle team v Barnsley:
To create the image above, Ryan Williamson used the NUFC team selector.
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