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Steve Bruce confirms these four Newcastle United changes against Chelsea on Monday

10 months ago

A lot of people say don’t change a winning team, for Steve Bruce though that is not an option.

A very strange and eventful match against Southampton may have produced three points for Newcastle United but it also raised a lot of questions for the following game against Chelsea nine days later.

Steve Bruce now confirming that there will be at least four changes to the side that started in the 3-2 win over Southampton.

Fabian Schar ruled out after having a knee operation, set to be missing for at least two months.

Jeff Hendrick will miss Monday night due to suspension after his daft red card on Saturday, forcing the referee to send him off when pulling an opponent back when already on a yellow card.

Javier Manquillo to be missing for eight weeks or more due to a ‘nasty’ ankle injury.

Whilst worst of all, Callum Wilson also ruled out until at least April after picking up a bad Hamstring injury. Steve Bruce having played the striker every single minute of nine Premier League matches in a row in a five week period, playing midweek and weekend, until predictably eventually injured and forced off against Southampton. Refusing to even rest (sub) the key striker in games such as the defeats at Arsenal (3-0 down after an hour) and Villa (2-0 down before half-time).

So what happens now, who will Steve Bruce replace these four first team players with?

This is who was in the Newcastle team last Saturday in the 3-2 win over Southampton…

Darlow, Manquillo, Hayden, Schar, Lewis, Willock, Hendrick, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Wilson (and the subs – Dubravka, Dummett, Carroll, Joelinton, Ritchie, Gayle, Krafth, Fraser, Anderson).

You assume that these seven (although Dubravka for Darlow could happen at any time…) will start once again in this Chelsea game: Darlow, Hayden, Lewis, Willock, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Almiron

Ciaran Clark looks sure to come back into the team to make it eight likely starters, his partner went into labour last weekend causing him to miss Southampton, a baby boy the result as well as the three points for his teammates.

A lot of the team selection probably revolves around the defence, both availability and whether it is a back four or five.

Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez are ‘touch and go’ for the Chelsea game, after having just returned to training. However, it would surely be daft to throw them back in so early for a tough game like this, where the defence is guaranteed to be overworked.

Paul Dummett is an option and actually usually looks more comfortable when playing centre-back on the rare occasions he does, compared to left-back where he offers nothing going forward.

In a back four you rarely though see two left footed centre-backs put together, I know a balance of a right and left footed is idea, but managers often play two right footed central defenders. Would Steve Bruce play Clark and Dummett as a pair?

I can’t really see it but if Lascelles and Fernandez prove not available, a back five with either Krafth or Hayden alongside Clark and Dummett would be a possibility as a back three in the middle.

Krafth, like Dummett, looks better playing in the middle, as he gets really exposed at left-back and left wing-back, with a lack of pace and ability.

The problem is though if you play Krafth as one of three centre-backs, who do you play as a right wing-back? The ridiculous decision by Mike Ashley to give Yedlin away to save on five months wages, already beginning to bite. Murphy is no defender and the same if you play somebody like Fraser there

I fear that Hayden will end up playing somewhere in the defence when really we need him in midfield.

If Hayden is in defence could we then see one of the Longstaff brothers not only back in the squad but in the team, as an extra midfielder? I can’t see Anderson thrown into this one for his first Premier League start, even though Bruce appears to have put him ahead of the Longstaff brothers.

As for up front, Wilson looks set to be replaced by one of Gayle, Carroll or Joelinton.

My best guess of the four players to come into the team are Clark (definite), Joelinton (definite), with also places for Ritchie and Dummett (can’t see Lascelles or Fernandez able to start).

I wouldn’t like to even guess though what the formation will be…


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