While Jetro Willems was not in any of the images released from Thursday’s training session, he was also not mentioned in Steve Bruce’s press conference on Friday as suffering from any problems. So it was a surprise not to see the Dutchman in the team for Saturday’s win against Crystal Palace.
We instead had Paul Dummett trying his best at left wing-back. However, Paul was forced off just before the final whistle with what’s being called a groin injury. It’s also been confirmed that Jetro missed the game with some sort of muscular injury.
Jetro Willems missing through injury, confirmed: https://t.co/LnlH2OcIJP
— The Chronicle (@ChronicleNUFC) December 21, 2019
That leaves the left wing-back position very much in doubt for the trip to Manchester United on Boxing Day. Once Matt Ritchie went down in August, we’ve been very vulnerable at the position. Jetro has done a stellar job holding down the position and now looks like one of the best left wing-backs in the Premier League.
However, he’s still coming to grips with the rigors of the Premier League and has missed two games since Matt Ritchie went down. Jetro didn’t travel to Leicester City in late September due to a slight knee problem. Bruce went to a back four with Dummett at left-back, but it was a game best forgotten.
Then yesterday, Willems was not involved through the unspecified muscle problem. Dummett again got the call in a more advanced role and did his best to fill Jetro’s shoes.
However, both are struggling with injuries, and it’s uncertain if either will be able to go on Thursday. If they are both ruled out, then Bruce will have to again cobble together a plan.
The head coach has a couple of options he could turn to. He could put Christian Atsu there even though the Ghanaian generally plays further forward. Christian is a willing runner and will do his best to track back and fulfill his defensive duties.
Another option is to move Manquillo from the right to the left where he has played before. Then DeAndre Yedlin can come back in on the right.
There’s Miguel Almiron who can play there as well though we really liked the Paraguayan in the role he played on Saturday and would prefer he remained in the middle behind the strikers.
The other glaring problem if Paul Dummett is out is that we’ll be down to just three center-backs with Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles injured. It also could be a risk to play Florian Lejeune only five days after his first game in over 8 months. But Bruce may have no other option unless he wants to draft in someone from the U23s like Lewis Cass or Oisin McEntee. Though both are right-footed we believe.
Of course, we may be jumping the gun a bit as Jetro and Paul could be ok and ready to go on Thursday. While both are muscle injuries and Bruce will want to tread carefully, Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron only missed the one game with their recent problems. So hopefully that will be the case with at least Jetro Willems.
Who Was The Man Of The Match In Win Against Crystal Palace?
- Javier Manquillo (39%, 747 )
- Miguel Almiron (36%, 672 )
- Martin Dubravka (15%, 277 )
- Andy Carroll (5%, 87 )
- Florian Lejeune (2%, 42 )
- Jonjo Shelvey (1%, 17 )
- Joelinton (1%, 17 )
- Paul Dummett (1%, 15 )
- Fabian Schar (1%, 11 )
- Federico Fernandez (0%, 5 )
- Isaac Hayden (0%, 2 )
Total Voters: 1,892