This is the predicted Newcastle team v Bournemouth for this afternoon’s match.
Rafa Benitez confirmed on Friday that three players definitely wouldn’t be selected.
Paul Dummett as he continues his return from injury, Mikel Merino as he now has a back injury which they are going to give a couple of weeks rest, and Jack Colback because he will continue to train and play with the reserves – the United boss saying he would even play Chancel Mbemba ahead of Colback in midfield.
So who will Rafa Benitez play today?
I suppose you can split the decisions in two really.
Defence is pretty obvious you would imagine.
A clean sheet against Palace and then a similarly solid performance against Burnley was only undermined by Ayoze Perez losing the ball outside the box, the last-ditch defending not quite able to prevent that winner 16 minutes from time.
Obviously the likes of Ciaran Clark are more than capable of coming in and doing a good job – but difficult to see Rafa Benitez disrupting his defensive unit just for the sake of it.
As for the front six though, there are plenty of questions but not easy to find answers.
Matt Ritchie was quiet at Burnley but still one of the first names on the team sheet, the same with Jonjo Shelvey.
Just so long as he is now fully fit, Isaac Hayden will also surely start in Merino’s absence, Diame really poor when getting a rare chance on Monday.
The other three spots?
Christian Atsu continues to show fleeting glimpses of a decent winger in there somewhere but needs to produce more and certainly get involved more, if he is to be a long-term answer. However, for now it appears he is all but certain to keep his place, unless Rafa decides to give Murphy another try for no other reason than a change to shake it up, or pulls in Rolando Aarons from nowhere.
Dwight Gayle got the last few minutes at Burnley and if he is anywhere near fit I think he will start. Newcastle have looked increasingly blunt up front and a bit of pace would be a very welcome addition.
I was tempted to find somebody else in the number 10 shirt as Ayoze Perez continues to frustrate. The lack of alternatives makes it difficult to see a great replacement, especially with Diame’s no show on Monday, but on top of that – a quick check of the record books would show that Perez has faced Bournemouth twice and scored both times, Newcastle winning 1-0 away ad losing 3-1 at home in the McClaren relegation season.
Horses for courses and an Ayoze Perez goal?
The predicted Newcastle team v Bournemouth:
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Newcastle v Bournemouth Match Betting:
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