This is the team we think Steve Bruce will select for Sunday’s match against Sheffield United. It features two changes from our last match over three months ago, which was a 1-0 win at Southampton.
The changes are due to injury with Bruce stating during his press conference on Friday morning that Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie have been hobbled with knocks.
So in comes Joelinton for Gayle at striker and Valentino Lazaro gets the start in his preferred right-wing role. The rest of the squad retains their place from the big win at St Mary’s.
Bruce will keep his more attacking formation. Miguel Almiron continues in the advanced midfield role in which he had started to shine before the season was suspended.
Joelinton also gets another chance up front. We don’t envision Andy Carroll getting in from the start though he’ll likely make a cameo at some point on Sunday.
We hope to see a lot from our two wingers, Allan Saint-Maximin and Valentino Lazaro. Saint-Maximin was on fire before the season was halted so hopefully, he can quickly rediscover his form.
There are slim pickings in the midfield with both Longstaff brothers recovering from knocks. While they may pass a late fitness test, we think Bruce will continue with Shelvey and Hayden and have Nabil Bentaleb in reserve if needed.
The back four also remains the same with Danny Rose and Javier Manquillo as the fullbacks. Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez have become Bruce’s preferred pairing, so Florian Lejeune, Fabian Schar, and Ciaran Clark (when he returns) will have to wait for their turn.