We should find out more during Steve Bruce’s pre-match press conference on who will be able to make the Anfield trip on Saturday. However, there were some rumblings this week that Miguel Almiron is not a certainty to make the squad for the game. A lot will depend on how he has recovered from his two international appearances with Paraguay.
This is how Steve Bruce addressed the situation after practice on Tuesday:
“Almiron, obviously, is the most difficult one, so we hope we can get him back on Thursday or Friday. Let’s see what condition he’s in.”
If Miguel cannot make the trip to Liverpool, maybe Yoshinori Muto can get his first Premier League start of the season. While Muto is generally used as a striker or a second striker, he does have a history of playing out wide.
In four of his final five appearances last season, Rafa Benitez used Muto as a substitute for one of Newcastle’s wide forwards. He came on for Christian Atsu late in the final two matches. He also replaced both Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez in two of his other late-season appearances.
When he was at Mainz in the Bundesliga, Muto was exclusively used as a striker or second striker. Of his 72 appearances in Germany, 66 were as a number nine, and only one was on the left flank. However, before moving to Germany, Muto was often used as a wide forward. In his final two seasons at FC Tokyo, Muto was used on either the right or the left in 55% of his appearances.
If Steve Bruce continues with the 5-4-1 formation, he does have the option of using Muto on one of the flanks if Almiron is unavailable. Bruce also has the option of reverting back to the 3-5-2 formation and using Muto and Joelinton as the strikers. Muto may be a better option than Almiron was in that formation. It may even be best to have Joelinton as the deeper forward behind Muto.
Muto needs to get some time on the pitch if he is ever going to acclimate himself to the Premier League. This season he has played only 33 minutes in Newcastle’s four league games. Last season he made only 5 starts in what was essentially a lost season for him.
With Newcastle in an injury crisis with attackers at the moment, Muto should get his chance now. If he doesn’t get an opportunity now with so many forwards injured, then when will he get his chance?