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:

Karl Darlow

Jesus Gamez

Grant Hanley

Stuart Findlay

Achraf Lazaar

Rolando Aarons

Henri Saivet

Jack Colback

Jacob Murphy

Mohamed Diame

Aleksandar Mitrovic

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.”

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Leazes Ender

    I’m not surprised.

  • Rich Lawson

    This does not look like a winning team,Joscelu and J.Murphy need game time to prepare for the prem’.I don’t care if the tickets were only £10,I go to see us win and play good football in an entertaining match,not put reserves in the shop window,How many seasons now since we honestly tried to win a proper cup ?

    • Dan Robson

      Last year when we put the first team out and got to a 1/4 final and lost on penaltys against Hull?

      • Rich Lawson

        Sels in goal in a Cup quarter final with a penalty shoot out to follow,give me a break.

  • Jimblag23

    If we use that defence we’ll be slaughtered.

  • Steve Pearce

    Right Mystic Meg – I always thought you couldn’t predict night following day. So there’ll be no Slo Mo or Mitrovic in the team for a start. Older readers will remember when we played regularly on Wednesdays and never fielded weakened teams so I’ll flush this prediction where it belongs!

  • maginyorkshire

    Rather see Woodman play

    • Peaky Magpie

      So would I,in midfield instead of Colback.

  • maginyorkshire

    Why would he play Jack Colback? Doesn’t even have a squad number

    • Jezza

      Last minute shop window job perhaps.

      • Rich Lawson

        Entirely,and what price he gives away a stupid foul on the edge of the box which Murphy steps up to take ?

      • mentalman

        would they risk him getting injured this close to the end of the transfer window

        • Jezza

          What’s the risk? He’s not carrying an injury so the risk of injury is no greater than any player playing in any game. In any case even if he did get injured it’s no loss. It’s not as if clubs are queueing up to sign him and he’s not going to be needed for first team action for NUFC either. Might as well play him and try and tempt someone to take him off our hands.

      • maginyorkshire

        unless he gets injured

  • maginyorkshire

    And it makes more sense to play more first team players, try and get a morale boosting win

    • TheNutJob

      sense & Nufc should not be mentioned in the same sentance

    • Leazes Ender

      Can’t afford to get any injuries.

  • steve

    Darlow
    Gamez Clark Lascelles Haidara
    Murphy Saivet Merino Aarons
    Diame
    Joselu/Mitrovic

  • Paul Busby

    Team looks far too strong for a club likely to want to get out of any distracting cup campaigns as quick as possible….

    But seriously, that will not be the squad.

  • Peaky Magpie

    Anybody but Colback please,not even good enough for Jarrow Roofing.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    why is SloMo still here

  • mentalman

    Darlow
    Gamez Mbemba Hanley Lazaar
    Diame Saivet
    Ritchie Perez Aarons
    mitro/ joselu

    thats the team that makes sense but there’s 8 players who started the season up for sale in that team so will they risk them getting injured and teams not buying them