Only hours to go now, only 12 days until the Premier League season kicks off at St James Park, my predicted Newcastle team v Tottenham below.
By the end of August I guess we might be seeing a very different side but for the time being, Rafa Benitez is more restricted in his choices.
The Newcastle boss has confirmed that Federico Fernandez won’t be involved today, but that apart from Florian Lejeune, everybody else is available.
The manager stated that in particular, Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Martin Dubravka would all be ok, the trio having missed part of pre-season with knocks.
Starting at the back, Dubravka is a certainty surely.
Whilst his back four also looks a formality for me.
Yedlin has arguably been Newcastle’s best performer in pre-season, whilst on the other side, the club failed to bring in any of Rafa’s targets to challenge Paul Dummett.
In the middle, with Lejeune absent it looks certain to be Lascelles and Clark.
Schar is available but played little in pre-season friendlies, so with Fernandez ruled out, Clark will be given his chance to stake a claim.
Ki Sung-yueng is likely to get decent game-time this season but with both Shelvey and Diame available, they will start.
Nobody played more minutes (355) than Matt Ritchie in the five pre-season friendlies and he will be on the right.
Whilst on the other side, I assume that despite only 67 minutes in pre-season, Kenedy will surely start. He has missed games due to spending time with his family after the birth of his daughter, rather than any injury.
If he was a totally new arrival then I’d guess he wouldn’t start but with the advantage of that successful loan spell last season, he knows the rest of the team and they know him.
Given a proper pre-season of preparation, there would have been very likely a totally new front pairing.
However, the reality hasn’t been that, and I think Ayoze Perez will keep his place. He finished the season really well, much improved on what had been shown for the first five or six months by him. Muto will be challenging very soon and may even get a run out late on from the bench today – but the former Tenerife man will be linking midfield with the main striker.
Salomon Rondon will surely start. Yes his deal was only sorted late in the window but he has had a pre-season with West Brom and with the only alternative being Joselu, he must play.
I can see Rondon playing maybe an hour or a little bit more and then Joselu coming on, hopefully to help protect a lead…
So a familiar looking line-up but hopefully Rondon to give it that extra edge.
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