This is the team I think Steve Bruce could go with for tonight’s match at Manchester United. It has three changes from the defeat to Chelsea last week.
Bruce’s injury update during his press conference had some positives with Federico Fernandez returning to training and Javier Manquillo responding well to treatment. However, both won’t be available for today leaving Bruce with few options at the back.
I can see Bruce making one change with his backline with Isaac Hayden coming in at right-back for Emil Krafth, who struggles against pacy forwards. Hayden played there recently in the 2-1 Leeds defeat and will also open up some changes to the midfield.
The glaring one being the return of Matty Longstaff. The youngster plays well against the Red Devils with two goals against them last season. His youthful exuberance and stamina would be very useful tonight.
Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock keep their places though I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce sat Shelvey for this one and brought back Jeff Hendrick or Sean Longstaff. Newcastle need to make life uncomfortable for Man United as Lascelles said over the weekend. That’s just not Shelvey’s type of game.
The other questionable change that I can envision is Joelinton coming in for Dwight Gayle. Bruce hinted that Gayle will get a run of games during his press conference but he offers little in a wide role and may need to wait for Wolves next weekend
Joelinton is a frustrating player but Bruce may opt to go with him tonight as he looked ok when coming on against Chelsea. He had a few moments and that may warrant another opportunity.
Bruce generally makes a few changes after a poor performance. While the second-half was much-improved, it was because the lads showed more intent. So Bruce’s team selection will have to mirror that type of mindset.
Whoever takes the pitch at Old Trafford tonight will have to play like their lives depend on it. Fulham moved to just three points adrift after their 1-0 win over a very poor Sheffield United. It’s a full-on relegation battle now, which is just sickening.