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Predicted Newcastle team v West Brom has these four changes

4 months ago
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Looking ahead to today’s Newcastle team v West Brom.

Steve Bruce comes into this game on the back of a seventeen game run with only two victories.

Twelve defeats and three draws, an ever so bleak run of form these past three months.

We got a fair bit 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 West Brom.

Steve Bruce delivered the news on injury, fitness and potential availability of the Newcastle United players for this key match.

Fabian Schar, Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and ASM won’t be back until April at the earliest, so will of course miss this one. Manquillo also set to be unavailable, he has only resumed light training in recent days and surely won’t be risked.

At least three other players are doubts though as well, according to Steve Bruce:

“Federico [Fernandez] has trained all week and he might be involved [against West Brom].

“We’ve got one or two knocks.

“We will see how Isaac Hayden is, he has been carrying an ankle injury for a week or two.

“Emil Krafth has got a nasty shin injury, so we will see how they are today and tomorrow.”

Neither Krafth or Hayden were pictured in training images from Wednesday’s session that the club released, so much will indeed depend on how much, if at all, they have managed to be involved since then.

To help give a starting point, this was the 20 man Newcastle United squad that was selected against Wolves last weekend:

Dubravka, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Willock, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Joelinton (Subs: Darlow, Dummett, Carroll, Ritchie, Gayle, Hendrick, Fraser, Murphy, Sean Longstaff)

So which Newcastle United team will Steve Bruce pick this weekend against West Brom?

We know that four players are definitely missing and my feeling is that both Hayden and Krafth won’t make it either.

With no realistic right-back option if Hayden is injured as well as Krafth and Manquillo, a switch to a back five looks likely.

This will also help Fernandez back into the team, who has obviously been struggling to get fully fit again. Playing as one of three centre-backs will be far more comfortable for the Argentine than in a back four.

Lining up alongside Lascelles and Clark in front of Dubravka, then Lewis as wing-back on the left and Murphy on the right I think. Murphy can’t play as a full-back but can get away with it just about as a wing-back, though not a great defender. No stand out alternatives though either.

That would leave Willock and Shelvey to no doubt continue in midfield and to be fair to Shelvey, at least he looked to be trying last weekend against Wolves, a big improvement on his recent matches.

In the absence of Wilson, ASM and Almiron we have the big question, or indeed, three big questions.

Fraser surely has to play so we have some credibility.

Whilst even Steve Bruce must see that playing Andy Carroll from the start is a huge no.

Which kind of leaves us with Joelinton and Gayle.

Steve Bruce is always keen to play the Brazilian and to be fair to him, at least he has been doing some decent work in non-dangerous areas, well away from the goal.

I believe Dwight Gayle has to play and he will, Newcastle’s best chance of nicking a goal in what is looking a tough game, Sam Allardyce especially desperate to get one over on the Newcastle fans.

I have a bad feeling that Steve Bruce will go very negative in this match and as a result West Brom will end up with a lot of control and possession in our half, with inevitably a lot of corners and other set-pieces. The Baggies are dangerous in the air on set-pieces, so it may even possibly prove that Gayle and Joelinton’s biggest contributions will be in helping hopefully to preserve a clean sheet.

That is about the limit of my expectations / hopes today, anything else a bonus with this joker in charge of the Newcastle team.

Giving this predicted Newcastle team v West Brom:

Here’s hoping whatever Newcastle team v West Brom that Steve Bruce puts out, it can at least avoid defeat. A defeat at West Brom would be bad in itself but when a team is on a run of two wins and twelve defeats in their last seventeen matches, what would it do to the confidence for the remaining eleven matches of this relegation battle?

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