This is the predicted Newcastle team v Huddersfield for Saturday’s match.

Under previous managers such as Pardew and McClaren, it became very predictable when guessing at the starting eleven, players having it far too easy as a small squad and weak managers meant the same players were pretty much guaranteed their places in the team, no matter what form they were in.

Under Rafa Benitez it has been anything but that, reputations count for nothing and in his two years at St James Park, Benitez hasn’t hesitated to drop anybody if it was the right move – the likes of Wijnaldum, Shelvey and captain Jamaal Lascelles just three of those to be left out and given a wake up call.

This season has been more of the same, in the most part, despite relatively few injury problems the Newcastle boss has chopped and changed, or ‘rotated’ as it tends to be called now.

However, recently, I think we have seen a shift, with Rafa Benitez settling on a first team that will take us through to the end of the season, changes kept to a minimum.

With players such as Joselu, Manquillo, Merino and Hayden, rarely getting a game since the turn of the year, Rafa began the process of working towards a regular first choice, Atsu another one to fall by the wayside with Kenedy’s introduction.

Then in what could well prove to have been the key result and performance of the season, we had a brave selection in the win over Manchester United.

Florian Lejeune replaced the injured Ciaran Clark, whilst new loan signing Martin Dubravka was thrown in for a tough Newcastle debut.

The eleven players who started that day, look to be now the manager’s first eleven for the foreseeable.

As you will see from the teams below, the same starting eleven against Man Utd, also started against both Bournemouth and Southampton, Newcastle picking up seven points from nine, though that should have been all nine if not for throwing away two points against Bournemouth.

The exception was the game against Liverpool, where similar to Man City in January, the manager picked a different more defensive team/formation to try and sneak a result, or at least dod a bit of damage limitation. Merino cameΒ  in for the injured Shelvey but the pace of Atsu and Murphy replacing Ritchie and Perez, in order to hassle the opposition and add more pace on the occasional counter-attack.

Against Huddersfield on Saturday, I would be amazed if the team is not the one shown below, the one that got those wins over Man Utd and Southampton.

The only two doubts about that selection seemingly settled in the last 24 hours.

Tuesday seeing Islam Slimani making his playing return after 10 weeks out.

If he had bounced straight in and looked on top form then maybe Ayoze Perez would have been instantly under threat BUT after 10 weeks of no football, Slimani looked to have poor movement and far from match fitness.

So surely no chance of him making the team and then with it being 15 days until he could next play after Huddersfield (away game against Leicester he can’t play on 7 April), I can’t see him even being used as a sub on Saturday unless Newcastle were in desperate need of a goal.

Meanwhile Matt Ritchie became a doubt for Saturday when dropping out of the Scotland squad through injury but Sky Sports this morning confirmed he was back training with the Newcastle squad and fine for Huddersfield.

Last four Rafa team selections:

Newcastle v Southampton – 10 March 2018:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Newcastle v Liverpool – 3 March 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Murphy, Merino, Diame, Kenedy, Atsu, Gayle

Newcastle v Bournemouth – 24 February 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Newcastle v Man Utd – 11 February 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

The predicted Newcastle team v Huddersfield:

newcastle team v huddersfield

Newcastle v Huddersfield Match Betting:

Newcastle win 3/4Draw 13/5Huddersfield win 22/5

Ritchie to score first goal 15/2Gayle to score and NUFC win 1-0 17/1NUFC win 2-0 7/1

All Newcastle v Huddersfield match betting HERE

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  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Yes looks good to me and should be a strong bench to help seal victory. Again important to get off to a good start and get three points to take down to Leicester City.

  • Rich Lawson

    Yes looks to be the one,but I would put Slimani on the bench as an impact sub for 20 min’s.Nobody cares if he gets injured as a result if he puts the ball in the net once.

  • Wor Lass

    Hard to argue with that selection. If Slimani is anywhere near fit and we`re either winning comfortably (fingers crossed) or in desperate need of a goal then he`ll likely come on. He needs match practice. I can`t wait for the game after a three week diet of, for the most part, irrelevant pap in the media. It could be a landmark day for the lads!

    • TheNutJob

      we`ll pagger them
      πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  • TheNutJob

    I think Rafael may play Mikel at number 10, i`m surprised he hasn`t tried that yet as the lad play`s there for Spains under 21`s. but even Clarko can`t predict what the gaffa will do

    • Rich Lawson

      He’s been busy with the new episodes of Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Radio 4.

    • Clarko

      In the two games he played for Spain during the break he played as a CB…

      • Wor Lass

        When you did that Hitchiker`s Guide to the Galaxy which did you recommend most strongly – milk chocolate or caramel? I bet you`re a caramel man!

        • TheNutJob

          extraterrestre
          πŸ‘½
          😁

      • TheNutJob

        Oh yeah, i can read the Spanish newspapers & putting aside his last 2 games he has played in the number 10 role.
        adios estupido
        πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½
        πŸ˜‚

        • Clarko

          You can say he has played as a “number 10” for Spain all you want, it doesn’t make it true, it’s not. He has made 12 appearances for the U21 team, 6 at DM, 3 at CM, and 3 at CB. (transfermarkt)

          Again, you’re absolutley clueless.

          • TheNutJob

            ok then the reports in the papers are wrong

          • Clarko

            What reports? Again, you saying there are reports doesn’t make it true. Quote/link them.

          • Wor Lass

            What about the galaxy?

          • Clarko

            Still waiting for the quotes…

    • Kneebotherm8

      The lad has stated he wants to play in a more advanced role…..and he has played there before.
      Quote:-
      The Spaniard, who was likened to Xabi Alonso after joining BVB from Osasuna in 2016, is a great passer of the ball and is indeed creative. But he hasn’t really been given a chance to show his worth in an advanced role
      Newcastle fans seem to be in full agreement with the notion that Spain Under-21 midfielder Mikel Merino should be fielded in a more advanced position under Rafa Benitez.
      Speaking to Diario AS in a recent interview,Merino suggested that he would be better-used closer to the goal.
      β€œIn the position of No 8, as I did at Under-19 level, with a midfielder behind that gives me more freedom because I like to get to the area, and shoot at goal,” he said. β€œIt’s where I think I am the best footballer.”……

      I’d love to see him Shelvey and Diame in the starting line up……

  • robbersdog

    In the context of our current squad, that’s a good team. I’d possibly include Merino instead of Perez because I’d like to see him integrated into the first-team picture sooner rather than later, but apart from that minor quibble, that team looks about right.

  • TheNutJob

    beam him up for christ sake Scotty
    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  • Mrkgw

    That side should be capable of securing the points vs Huddersfield.