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Newcastle team v West Ham – This is how the starting 11 now looks for opening match

2 months ago

Euro 2020 is now long gone (two weeks), the summer transfer window is rapidly slipping away (47 days gone, 37 to go), with the Premier League only three weeks away.

The first Premier League fixture is actually only 19 days away (Brentford v Arsenal on Friday 13 August), whilst NUFC have an extra two days to prepare.

We will find out the Newcastle team v West Ham at 1pm on Sunday 15 August ahead of a 2pm kick-off at St James Park, our match the ninth of ten on the opening weekend, with only Spurs v Man City coming later on that Sunday afternoon.

Rather than the excitement of which new signings might play in this opening match, for Newcastle United fans it has been a case of counting up the players who are certain, or very likely, to miss it.

The first team squad players who started or were subs at Doncaster on Friday night were these 14:

Murphy, Lascelles, Dummett, Lewis, Hayden, Hendrick, Sean Longstaff, Fraser, Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Clark, Matty Longstaff, Gayle, Fernandez

As things stand, these are the other 13 first team squad players still contracted to Newcastle United who could potentially feature against West Ham, depending on their injury / fitness status in three weeks time:

Joelinton, Javier Manquillo, Matt Ritchie, Yoshinori Muto, Karl Darlow, Mark Gillespie, Freddie Woodman, Jonjo Shelvey, Miguel Almiron, Fabian Schar, Emil Krafth, Elliot Anderson, Martin Dubravka

This is my predicted Newcastle team v West Ham for the opening day of the season, based on a number of factors, including the likely fitness and how much they have been involved in pre-season. As you may notice, not many new signings figure…

Freddie Woodman

Martin Dubravka has had a foot operation and will miss the start of the season.

Karl Darlow tested positive for Covid and on Friday night Steve Bruce said he was having a really bad time of it.

Mark Gillespie is decent cover but with Dubravka ruled out it was always going to be Darlow or Woodman, with the way left clear now for the latter.

Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett

It looks all but certain that Steve Bruce will start with five at the back and with Lejeune sold and Schar not returning to training until this upcoming week, I think unless injury strikes (or a new signing!) this trio will be playing.

Jacob Murphy and Jamal Lewis

With the five at the back, we need wing backs not full backs.

With that the case, Jacob Murphy seems a certainty on the right, especially with Manquillo injured in these early weeks of pre-season, plus Krafth not starting pre-season until this week coming.

On the left, it looks to be between Matt Ritchie and Jamal Lewis.

Ritchie ended last season in the team but was missing on Friday through injury at Doncaster, Lewis having a decent game.

Ritchie’s injury said not to be serious but for me it does now give Jamal Lewis the edge in who is most likely to start in the Newcastle team v West Ham.

Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff

A calf injury look set to keep Brucey favourite Jonjo Shelvey out of the opening fixture, Matty Longstaff set to go on loan apparently, whilst Elliot Anderson is injured.

I pray that Jeff Hendrick doesn’t make the side and in his absence the way is clear for Sean Longstaff to partner Isaac Hayden.

Nice to see the older Longstaff brother getting in the box and scoring at Doncaster on Friday, we need more of that from him and others this season, not just relying on Callum Wilson for the goals. Unless we get credible new signings of course…

That then leaves three places in the team.

Callum Wilson

Now with the number nine shirt, Wilson will start up front barring disaster.

No competition with Carroll having left, Newcastle trying to move Muto on, Joelinton having some injury issues and Bruce saying he isn’t even a centre-forward, whilst the Head Coach clearly doesn’t rate Gayle very highly, considering the way he has treat him these past two seasons.

Allan Saint-Maximin

Along with Wilson, ASM is one of the two most obvious selections in the whole team.

Has looked lively in pre-season and is sure to start – unless injury strikes or an ambitious club come in for ASM and the Frenchman is determined to go. Doesn’t bear thinking about when you look around our squad for other creativity.

Ryan Fraser

Was little used in the Euros by Scotland but they may have done Newcastle a favour in terms of getting Fraser somewhere close to full fitness.

Has looked decent in pre-season and scored a well taken goal at Doncaster as well as laying on a lovely left footed assist for Wilson’s goal that won the match.

Playing against weak opposition but no real competitors as things stand.

Miguel Almiron’s name was missing when Steve Bruce named players returning to training this week, so it sounds like the Paraguayan is still recovering from his hamstring injury suffered at the Copa America. Had a busy summer anyway and for the longer-term this season, it would be sensible to ease him in gradually.

Fraser’s biggest rival to start in the Newcastle team v West Ham appears to be Joelinton and you can never rule out Bruce playing the Brazilian, whether under orders from Mike Ashley to do so, or whatever.

Either way, on form and potential of helping to increase the threat going forward, you would think Fraser has to start ahead of Joelinton, plus the Brazilian has been having some injury / fitness issues.

So this leaves my Newcastle team v West Ham for our first match of the season as:

Woodman, Murphy, Fernandez, Lascelles, Dummett, Lewis, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Fraser, Saint-Maximin, Wilson


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