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Opinion

Predicted Newcastle team v Manchester City has four changes

4 months ago
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Looking ahead to Saturday night’s Newcastle team v Manchester City.

Steve Bruce comes into this game on the back of some really poor performances in the festive against Brentford, Leeds and Fulham, whilst the West Brom win was in no way convincing.

Now things start to look a little more difficult to say the least, with home matches against Liverpool and Leicester, following this trip to the Etihad.

We didn’t get a lot of guidance from the Steve Bruce pre-match press conference, as to which players would and wouldn’t be available for this Newcastle team v Manchester City.

Bruce did confirm though that it would be sometime after the new year before Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin will stand any chance of returning, whilst the NUFC Head Coach said he was hoping he might have Federico Fernandez available but that would all depend on how the defender was feeling and whether he could train normally.

The club did then later publish a set of photos showing the squad training on Christmas Eve (Thursday) and they showed Lascelles training / running away from the main group, with ASM missing altogether.

Federico Fernandez though was back in group training and indeed the whole NUFC squad could be seen in the images, with the exception of two other players – Ryan Fraser and Paul Dummett. This is not to say that they weren’t there at training and / or are definitely not going to be available tonight, just that neither could be seen in the training images.

In more positive news though, after over four weeks out of action, both Javier Manquillo and Fabian Schar were back at last involved in the NUFC first squad training. Martin Dubravka also featuring heavily in the training shots and no surprise if he is back in the 18 man squad tonight.

The Newcastle team and subs v Brentford were:

Darlow, Yedlin, Hayden, Clark, Lewis, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Murphy, Fraser, Almiron, Wilson (Subs: Gillespie, Carroll, Joelinton, Ritchie, Gayle, Hendrick, Krafth)

I think even if Dubravka is named in the squad tonight, it will still be some way further down the line before Steve Bruce would consider the possibility of him returning to the team ahead of Karl Darlow. Maybe the FA Cup tie at Arsenal in two weeks time will see the Slovakian get his first start after recovering from injury.

A back five looks all but certain but whilst Manquillo and Schar are back in full training, I’m guessing they won’t be considered for a start just yet.

I see Bruce playing Clark, Fernandez and Krafth as three centre-backs, with Krafth having played as one of the three on the odd occasion previously.

Lewis hasn’t been great recently but is set to play at left wing-back, even if Dummett is available. Whilst on the right I reckon Yedlin will start and not Murphy.

With more availability at the back, I see Hayden released to play in central midfield, probably alongside Shelvey. Nobody has been great there this season so difficult to predict, though surely time for a struggling Sean Longstaff to be taken out of the firing line.

Steve Bruce has said that Callum Wilson will at some point get a rest during the festive period and I think that point will be tonight, with Dwight Gayle getting a rare match starting up front.

In the supporting roles I’m seeing Joelinton and Miguel Almiron getting selected, although exactly how much they will be doing anything but defending will be anybody’s guess.

Making the predicted Newcastle team v Manchester City look something like this:

The last two Manchester City home matches saw Fulham give them a half decent game before going down 2-0, before then West Brom rode their luck to a 1-1 draw in what proved to be Slaven Bilic’ final game, so hopefully Steve Bruce gives it a go and doesn’t just try and sit back for 90 minutes and pray they don’t score.

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