Steve Bruce will again have some tough decisions to make in his team selection for Thursday at Old Trafford. This is another crucial match and one we certainly should be looking to take all three points from.
Man United are only one place above us but only due to a much superior goal difference. Their loss today at Watford could spur them on at home on Boxing Day, but Newcastle should come in feeling very confident. Especially having defeated them at St James Park in October.
However, Bruce will again have injuries and tough selection decisions to contend with. Two of the biggest will be whether Bruce should risk Andy Carroll and Florian Lejeune after both played the full game against Crystal Palace.
The head coach will also have to look forward to Saturday’s match against Everton at St James Park just two days later. He’s likely going to have to rotate his squad but could possibly have a crisis with injured defenders.
We could be without Paul Dummett and Jetro Willems on Thursday as they both have suffered muscle injuries. That could give Bruce limited options defensively and on the left.
We will already be missing Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, and Matt Ritchie, likely until the new year. However, we haven’t been given a prognosis yet on Dummett or Willems, so hopefully, they’ll be ok.
Dummett’s availability will play a significant role in whether Bruce decides to give Florian Lejeune his second start in just five days. He came through yesterday’s match brilliantly and has been training for months so he may be ok to play on Thursday.
Andy Carroll is another one that Bruce will have to make a decision on. He’ll likely not play in both the Manchester United and Everton matches. There’s no way Andy should be playing two games in three days.
It’ll be interesting to see if he goes with Andy on Thursday or holds him until the match at St James Park on Saturday. Either way, we’re likely to see Dwight Gayle get a start in one of those games.
This is a situation that all clubs have to manage at this time of year. However, it makes it that much harder when you have so many players struggling with injuries.
We also have Leicester City on New Year’s day and the Third Round of the FA Cup at Rochdale on January 4th.
Bruce is a very sensible man, and he’ll do what’s best for the long term. Hopefully, we have enough in this squad to keep the momentum going and continue to get points.
Newcastle is in a good position, but they need to keep focused on getting points. The bottom three are very much still alive, and a string of bad results could see us back in trouble.