This is the predicted Newcastle team v Chelsea for Saturday lunchtime’s match.
On Friday lunchtime, Rafa Benitez confirmed that a number of players would be missing.
Christian Atsu, Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett ruled out but all said to be making progress and to be ‘very close’ to returning.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle boss said that it was good news elsewhere, with no new injuries after West Brom and the same squad to select from.
“I had a conversation with Atsu, Lascelles and Dummett,still they are not involved, but very close.
“The rest (of the squad) are the same we had.”
So where does that leave us?
Well, Rafa made five changes for that game on Tuesday night and I expect him to make a few more at Stamford Bridge.
At the back, Mbemba looked good against West Brom and Darlow didn’t do anything wrong, so no reason to believe they will be under threat.
Lascelles’ continued absence ensures Clark and Lejeune will remain, whilst despite being at fault to a degree for both goals on Tuesday, I can’t see Yedlin making way – as Rafa no doubt hopes the full-back’s defensive understanding will develop and eventually come close to his usefulness going forward.
Merino must surely keep his place and Hayden as well, the former Arsenal player still not great in midweek but his energy will be needed to help in trying to counter Chelsea.
I do though see Jonjo Shelvey coming straight back in after his rest/lesson, he bossed the game when coming on with 10 minutes to go and almost guided Newcastle to a win.
I also see Dwight Gayle coming back in after also being left out against the Baggies, a more defensive formation to play at Stamford Bridge and his pace looking to get behind the blues on the counter-attack.
I think Joselu and Murphy will make way, Ritchie back to some kind of form against West Brom and an automatic pick, whilst I think Rafa could go with Perez instead of an out and out winger, as one of the support players for Gayle.
The predicted Newcastle team v Chelsea:
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