Never say never but I think we can now see what the Newcastle team v Tottenham is going to be.
Rafa Benitez is now seemingly being forced to look in the bargain bins for more signings, with a 35 year old free agent French goalkeeper in Cedric Carrasso, and rare scorer of goals the unwanted Stoke fringe striker Joselu, the latest to be linked with Newcastle interest.
Clearly these are squad type signings at best and even if Rafa Benitez somehow managed to persuade Mike Ashley to go for a realistic first team signing, it would be very unlikely that Rafa would throw them straight into the Newcastle team v Tottenham without a single warm-up game.
So what do we have in our current squad as it stands today?
Well based on all the information to hand, I think we will see this team as Rafa’s first choice eleven to start against Spurs:
I’m guessing the most striking thing for most people is that this team only features three of the five summer signings.
I know we have the game against Verona tomorrow but I can’t see Mikel Merino being thrown straight in against Tottenham, not after only half an hour so far in the friendlies plus whatever he gets on Sunday.
With Jack Colback now looking fourth choice, it looks certain to me that Hayden and Shelvey will be first choice v Spurs, just as they were in the Championship.
Jacob Murphy I feel will also be kept under wraps, with Christian Atsu seen as a better bet to provide defensive cover and experience against a very good Tottenham side.
Likewise, I can only see Mohamed Diame getting the nod for the position behind Dwight Gayle. He hasn’t exactly impressed in pre-season, though neither has Ayoze Perez particularly, but Diame does give more defensive cover and is more mobile than the Spaniard who lacks pace.
Like Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark is surely certain to start, one of our best players last season he has once again impressed in the friendlies. As has new signing Florian Lejeune. With Jamaal Lascelles limited to only an hour in pre-season so far, he will be on the bench in eight days time.
The full-back positions pretty much take care of themselves, as with Yedlin injured, Manquillo will start as there is little/no other competition. Jesus Gamez is likely to be named on the bench as he can cover both full-back positions – but still no proper rival to Paul Dummett has been signed.
Matt Ritchie is another sure thing to start and Rob Elliot looks in the same category, Rafa Benitez making clear he is his top keeper of those currently at the club, though at the same time the manager is still desperate to bring in a new number one.
Of course nine of the eleven named above were at the club last season, with only Manquillo and Lejeune new faces.
The big question, will this Newcastle team v Tottenham have enough to trouble last season’s Premier League runners-up?
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