Here is the predicted Newcastle team v Sheffield Wednesday that I think Rafa Benitez will choose for today’s game at Hillsborough
The Manager has confirmed that DeAndre Yedlin, Ciaran Clark, Jack Colback, Isaac Hayden and Rolando Aarons are all ruled out.
On Wednesday against Burton, Rafa selected:
Newcastle United starting 11:
Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Atsu, Perez, Gayle
Elliot, Gamez, Haidara, Hanley, Gouffran, Ameobi, Murphy
For this match against Sheffield Wednesday, it is difficult to see Rafa Benitez making many, if any, changes when he looks to have the same limited options as he did against Burton.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was missing totally from the 18 players selected on Wednesday but Rafa has confirmed that he does at least travel for today’s game.
However, unless there is any injury concerns, it is very difficult to see anything else but Dwight Gayle playing, especially as he looks to be now getting his sharpness back, scoring against Wigan and his all-round game looking better against Burton.
Very very unlikely we will see today as the occasion that Rafa plays two strikers, so it will be Murphy and/or Mitrovic on the bench.
I can’t see Sammy Ameobi or Massadio Haidara being considered for a start, whilst Jesus Gamez has been fit for a long time now without convincing the Manager he should get in ahead of either Anita or Dummett.
In centre of defence Hanley did ok against Wigan but with neither he or Lascelles having any pace, Rafa had to concede he couldn’t risk that again, even against Burton Albion. He had shown no interest in giving Chancel Mbemba a game but with Ciaran Clark injured, he had little choice but to bring him in on Wednesday night.
Against a more mobile Sheffield Wednesday, he will surely keep Mbemba in after doing ok against Burton and providing more mobility. Whilst Lascelles was once again not at his best, it is hard to envisage Rafa leaving his captain out for this tough match today.
The in-form Matt Ritchie is the first name on the team sheet at the minute and the Shelvey/Diame partnership is set to continue with no other central midfield options available, unless Rafa suddenly decided to try Vurnon Anita back in the middle of midfield.
So I can only see one likely change, with Yoan Gouffran set to take his turn and Christian Atsu to drop to the bench.
The only other possibility for me is that either Gouffran or Atsu could be played behind Gayle and Perez drop out – but Rafa Benitez has resisted this for almost all of the season and played either Perez or Diame in that number 10 role. Both Atsu and Perez were poor against Burton so Rafa could potentially leave out either but it must be odds on that Gouffran will be returned to his usual left wing spot.
My predicted Rafa Benitez Newcastle team v Sheffield Wednesday:
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