If you are heading along to St James Park tonight, the Newcastle team v Nottingham Forest is unlikely to bear any resemblance to the sides that faced Tottenham and Huddersfield in the Premier League.
There have been all sorts of clues as to the first eleven. with Rafa Benitez, the local media and even a player’s agent guiding us.
Rafa has said (see below) that he will ‘change a lot of players’ and ‘that is the reality’.
He also has said that he is likely to include one or more players from the Under 23 set-up.
The local media have reported that Jack Colback is back training with the first team squad, whilst the agent of Achraf Lazaar has said on social media that the left-back will definitely play tonight – potentially his last game with a move back to Italy on the cards.
Picking through the bones of all that, I think Rafa Benitez could send out this Newcastle team v Nottingham Forest:
This would represent a whole different team to that on Sunday but with injuries and Shelvey’s suspension, I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager didn’t risk anybody who might play against West Ham.
Against Birmingham in the FA Cup in January at St James Park, Rafa played Hanley, Findlay and Lazaar in the 3-1 win.
Darlow looks obvious in goal despite talk of Woodman maybe making his first team debut – Benitez will want to keep Darlow interested as he still hasn’t brought in a new keeper, whilst with defensive injuries Gamez looks set for a game as well.
Merino and Hayden looked ok at Huddersfield and the Saivet/Colback combo is likely to start, Saivet making the bench and Rafa potentially putting Colback in the shop window.
Diame and Mitrovic need time on the pitch and surely will start.
The interesting ones for most supporters is the chance to see Murphy and Aarons getting a game – and potentially pushing for a game on Saturday when the Hammers visit.
No reason why this team can’t handle Forest and it does reiterate the point that Newcastle do appear to have a lot of players who are much of a muchness, with few who really stand out.
Rafa Benitez talking about team selection v Nottingham Forest:
“We will use the squad and change players.
“How many? I don’t know at the moment but we will change a lot of players.
“Hopefully we can go through and then we can continue the run in the cups.
“If we can’t, it’s because we aren’t strong enough to compete in three competitions.
“That is the reality. I’d like to win and go through though.”
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