It’s been a long two weeks, but Newcastle finally return to Premier League action on Sunday.
After a humiliating defeat to Brighton, the Magpies are preparing to take on Tottenham Hotspur at home.
Steve Bruce desperately needs to get some points on the board, and must make big changes to the team that were embarrassed at the Amex.
Longstaff brothers recalled
The big change required is the shape. The diamond needs to disappear.
Newcastle need more energy in midfield, which means Jonjo Shelvey should drop to the bench.
Isaac Hayden’s injury is a huge blow for the Magpies, but it should open the door for the Longstaff brothers to return.
Both Sean and Matty have barely featured over the past couple of months, but the pair are more than capable of doing an important job of protecting the defence.
Shelvey is unreliable in a defensive role, while Jeff Hendrick should be nowhere near the starting XI.
Dropping Joe Willock would be harsh, but the Longstaffs deserve an opportunity to prove why they should have been starting all along.
Saint-Maximin to start
Ahead of the game, Bruce confirmed that Allan Saint-Maximin is in contention to return.
If he is fit to play some part then he must start.
Bringing the Frenchman on late in the game when we are chasing things would be futile.
Starting with Ryan Fraser on one wing and Saint-Maximin on the other will give us pace on the break and give us a chance to hurt Spurs.
Gayle to lead the line
If that is the case then Dwight Gayle has to start up front. And not out wide as a split striker – through the middle, leading the line.
Gayle is a goalscorer, which is exactly what Joelinton is not.
A 4-2-3-1 system will give Newcastle more balance, and a better chance of getting an unlikely victory against Jose Mourinho’s men.
How Newcastle should lineup vs Spurs: Dubravka; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; S.Longstaff, M.Longstaff; Fraser, Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Gayle.