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Catch 22 for Steve Bruce as he admits he has to make changes

11 months ago

Steve Bruce watched on as his Newcastle side put in a really poor performance seven days ago against Aston Villa.

With the likes of Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff all available at the weekend, changes seemed inevitable for some.

However, the only change ended up to be DeAndre Yedlin replaced by Javier Manquillo.

Even that was down to Yedlin picking up an injury, otherwise I think it is clear there would have been no changes at all.

Steve Bruce was vindicated with his team selection, particularly with Shelvey keeping his place ahead of free from suspension Sean Longstaff.

Shelvey didn’t have a stand out game but scored that vital 88th minute goal to win a point and to be fair, a game where Newcastle are permanently defending doesn’t play to his strengths.

However, Newcastle are now looking at a run of eight games in a 30 day stretch and the NUFC Head Coach admits that changes are all but inevitable.

That is very likely to begin in the first of those eight games, Newcastle travel to Sheffield United on Thursday night and then less than 65 hours after that game ends, they kick-off against Southampton on Sunday afternoon, with this crazy week of fixtures dictated by Amazon Prime (go HERE for details of how to get a 30 day free Amazon Prime trial to watch the Sheffield United match and game at Man Utd on Boxing Day for nothing) having the rights to this round of fixtures. Newcastle should have played at Sheff Utd on Tuesday night and Southampton home on Saturday.

I think to be honest, if it had been the Southampton home game on Thursday night then it would have been an easy decision, at least for me that is.

I would have kept the same 11 players from drawing against Man City as Southampton are the club in the bottom three who look most likely to escape.

They came back and beat Watford on Saturday and they play Norwich at home on Wednesday night, so could be only one point behind Newcastle by the time we play on Thursday.

Sheffield United have been excellent and even with our strongest team out, I think Newcastle are likely to lose. So it makes sense to play the strongest team on Sunday rather than Thursday, as it simply isn’t realistic to play the same 11 certainly not if you want to protect against injuries.

A bit of a Catch 22 as well though because Newcastle should be able to get something at Bramall Lane if they did play to their capability, at least in theory. Football isn’t an exact science though and interesting to see what Steve Bruce decides, as is Thursday decision will undoubtedly impact on Sunday’s potential team selection.

I think the most likely changes on Thursday would see Schar and Sean Longstaff getting a start, with Gayle as well I think coming in as well.

Steve Bruce asked if he had considered replacing Jonjo Shelvey on Saturday with Sean Longstaff, after the Geordie midfielder was free after suspension:

“I have got to make a decision and that is what you get paid for.

“They are big calls.

“But I was never in doubt to leave him (Jonjo Shelvey) out.

“Going on to Thursday (Sheffield United away) and then Sunday (Southampton at home) has got me thinking (about changes)…but we will address that on Thursday.

“I’m thinking of changes, which is something I believe we will have to do because of the amount of games we have to play.”


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