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Newcastle team v West Ham – This is how the starting 11 is set to look for opening game

1 month ago

We will find out the Newcastle team v West Ham at 1pm tomorrow (Sunday 15 August), ahead of a 2pm kick-off at St James Park.

I predict it will look very familiar.

No surprise when not a single new signing will be competing for a place in the first starting eleven of the season.

Joe Willock could potentially feature at Aston Villa next Saturday (21 August) but won’t be involved tomorrow.

This is my predicted Newcastle team v West Ham for the opening day of the season…

Freddie Woodman

Easy one to start.

Dubravka and Darlow injured and ill respectively, Freddie Woodman played the full 90 minutes in the final friendly against Norwich.

Steve Bruce stating on Friday that Freddie Woodman would be starting against West Ham, Mark Gillespie covering.

Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar

I think Lascelles and Fernandez will definitely play and then it is a case of guessing whether Steve Bruce plays Clark, Krafth or Schar as the third one. Paul Dummett is missing through injury.

I think the Swiss international will get the nod but no surprise if one of other pair.

Jacob Murphy and Matt Ritchie

Jacob Murphy is sure to start as right wing back, barring injury.

On the left though, not much to choose between Jamal Lewis and Matt Ritchie in pre-season. Steve Bruce giving no obvious indication with the two of them getting plenty time on the pitch.

Ritchie started last Saturday and got 65 minutes against Norwich, Lewis then replacing him for the final 25. Leading me to think Ritchie the more likely. Did himself no harm either when getting in the box to poke home the opening goal from close range.

Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff

With no Joe Willock, I fancy this pair to play in the middle of the pitch.

Matty Longstaff is totally out of the running, whilst I can’t see Jonjo Shelvey starting.

Bruce was giving positive noises about his favourite after Shelvey played and did ok in the second half against a much weakened Norwich side (eight first team players missing due to injury and self-isolating).

However, after missing most of pre-season with a calf injury and only 76 minutes of friendly football, I think even Steve Bruce will accept that a place on the bench is best.

As for Jeff Hendrick, please no.

Callum Wilson

An easy choice, if fully fit.

Had missed the previous two friendlies with a hamstring but back to play 45 minutes against Norwich.

If Wilson is even just 80% / 90% I think Steve Bruce will still start him and hope for at least an hour out of him, the Head Coach desperate to start well and willing to run the risk with his star striker.

Dwight Gayle impressed with a couple of smart finishes against Norwich and I would be tempted to start him and then bring on Wilson for the final 25 / 30 minutes if he isn’t 100% fit and ready. I don’t think Bruce will see it that way though.

Allan Saint-Maximin

Impressed when playing the second 45 against Norwich and woke the team up a bit after a laboured first half.

However, had missed the previous three friendlies with an ‘illness’ that was never specified.

Steve Bruce will also be desperate to play ASM and I think he will do so, once again, even if not quite 100%.

Ryan Fraser

Has done ok in pre-season and I think will get the nod, played the second half last Saturday when NUFC upped their game a bit.

You always worry that Joelinton will make Steve Bruce’s team and no surprise if he does on Sunday – but I am reasonably confident that won’t be the case.

Miguel Almiron only arrived back at the training ground a week and a half ago and only has 45 minutes of friendly action behind him. Will be amongst the nine subs (increased yet again…will need a bigger bench).

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

Woodman, Murphy, Fernandez, Lascelles, Schar, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Fraser, Saint-Maximin, Wilson


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