Predicted Newcastle team v Southampton for key match
This is the predicted Newcastle team v Southampton for Saturday’s match.
Rafa Benitez revealed on Friday that Islam Slimani would not be available, the striker having a battle to be ready for Huddersfield in three weeks time.
As for Jonjo Shelvey, he is back training but Rafa said he wouldn’t make a decision on his availability until the day of the match.
Rafa Benitez always errs on the side of caution with returning players, so I think the bench would be the most Shelvey could hope for.
So then it comes down to a straight choice between Isaac Hayden and Mikel Merino as to who plays alongside Mohamed Diame in the middle.
Merino wasn’t great against Liverpool last week but with very little football recently, that was a tough game. In terms of linking up play he is far better than Hayden, so I can only see the Spaniard starting.
To an extent, I think the rest of the team picks itself.
Very difficult to see the back four and keeper changing, Ciaran Clark is always a possibility to return but Lejeune has done ok.
Up front, Dwight Gayle is a sure starter. A thankless task last weekend but he looked sharp against Bournemouth.
Kenedy will surely get his place as he is the only player who will take a man on, apart from Yedlin’s mad charges down the right.
Whilst Ritchie has played himself into a bit of form and will hopefully finish the season strongly.
This leaves one place and whilst Rafa picked three wingers in his team at Anfield (including Murphy…four if you include Kenedy who played as a left wing-back), I think it will be choice of either Joselu or Perez who supports Gayle.
Joselu hasn’t started a game since January and I can’t see that changing, so hopefully Perez will step it up.
The predicted Newcastle team v Southampton:
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