Here is my team prediction for today’s pivotal match against Watford. It has four changes from the Cambridge defeat with a debut for Chris Wood.
Eddie Howe fielded his strongest available side for Cambridge. An inability to finish a multitude of chances doomed Newcastle to an early FA Cup exit.
A few more options come into play today. Big Chris Wood signed from Burnley on Thursday. He was brought in to fill the void while Callum Wilson recovers. Today is a perfect opportunity for him to introduce himself to a packed St. James’ Park.
Jamaal Lascelles is available so he’s likely to slot straight back in. Paul Dummett could be ready for his season debut and provides more defensive stability on the left than Matt Ritchie.
The full scope of who Howe has available is unknown. He confirmed that Covid is still impacting his team selection. Though we do know Wilson, Federico Fernandez, and Isaac Hayden are out with long-term injuries.
Watford boss Claudio Ranieri has a bit of a selection crisis on his hands. He has numerous players out injured or away at the Africa Cup of Nations including star Ismaila Sarr. However, Emmanuel Dennis is available after missing the FA Cup with a knock.
Callum Wilson (calf), Federico Fernandez (thigh), Isaac Hayden (knee), Javier Manquillo (suspension), Jamal Lewis (hamstring – late fitness test), Martin Dubravka (toe – late fitness test), Karl Darlow (status unknown), Dwight Gayle (status unknown), Ciaran Clark (status unknown)
Nicolas Nkoulou (hamstring), Peter Etebo (knee), Kwadwo Baah (ankle), Ismaila Sarr (knee/international duty), Imran Louza (international duty), Adam Masina (international duty), William Troost-Ekong (international duty), Ben Foster (groin – late fitness test), Christian Kabasele (calf – late fitness test), Kiko Femenia (hamstring – late fitness test)
Newcastle fans are confident and hopeful as 75% are predicting a win. Three points would take us out of the relegation places at least until Tuesday.
Victory is really the only acceptable result. There will come a time when you run out of must-win chances. This one is as big as they come.