This is the team we predicted Steve Bruce would name for Saturday’s match against Chelsea. It has four changes from the loss to Southampton.
This team is predicated on the assumption that Steve Bruce will not risk any players still recovering from injury. That leaves him short upfront with Callum Wilson hopefully being saved for next week.
Both Ciaran Clark and Matty Longstaff need an opportunity after barely featuring this year due to injury. They are both fit now and should be pushing for their chance.
Bruce revealed that a handful of Magpies are getting close to a return. However, we expect him to be without seven tomorrow, at least for the starting eleven. Wilson could get a spot on the substitutes bench.
Dwight Gayle (knee), Martin Dubravka (heel), Paul Dummett (hamstring), Ryan Fraser (hamstring), Jonjo Shelvey (groin – late fitness test), Callum Wilson (hamstring – late fitness test), Matt Ritchie (shoulder – late fitness test)
Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Thiago Silva (late return from international duty), Kai Havertz (Covid-19 – late fitness test), Ben Chilwell (back – late fitness test)
Our readers are obviously not optimistic about this one with 75% expecting a loss. That’s the likely result but you never know as last season Isaac Hayden pulled a rabbit out of a hat in the final minutes to get a shock win.
The most important thing is to see an improvement from our last match. We seem to say that far too often. But the run of fixtures following this one are crucial and putting in a competent performance tomorrow could be key to sparking a decent run over the next month.