For the second time in 10 days, Newcastle are set to play Blackburn Rovers.

After the pair drew at St James’ Park, we now have an unwanted replay, with the winner getting to host Watford in the FA Cup Fourth Round.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Newcastle’s Premier League position has got worse since the pair met on January 5th. The Magpies are now in the relegation zone, with a crucial game against Cardiff on the horizon. With that in mind, how should Rafa Benitez lineup?

More minutes for Lejeune

Since returning from injury, Florian Lejeune has impressed. He has played the full game in Newcastle’s past two outings, and must continue to get back to match fitness. Another start against Blackburn is ideal for the Frenchman.

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Hopefully he will be paired alongside Federico Fernandez. The summer signing has been out injured but returned to the bench for the defeat to Chelsea on Saturday. Some will argue that a partnership of Fernandez and Lejeune could actually be our strongest.

At full-back, Jamie Sterry and Javi Manquillo should start like they did last time against Rovers.

Return for Kenedy against Blackburn

Kenedy missed the Chelsea game due to being on loan from the Stamford Bridge side. The Brazilian has been massively out of sorts, but this is merely a bad run of form. He should get a chance at Ewood Park to try and re-find his form from last season.

On the other wing, we need some first-team quality, so Christian Atsu should start. Jacob Murphy played last time against Blackburn, but did nothing to justify a place in the starting XI.

(Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

With injuries still an issue, Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff should continue in the middle of the park.

Don’t risk Rondon

The one player that Benitez can’t afford to risk is Salomon Rondon.

The striker is pivotal, and an injury to him would basically resign us to relegation. Despite playing awfully against Blackburn last time, Joselu should lead the line for the Magpies, supported by Ayoze Perez.

Newcastle should use this game to try and get some momentum, so playing usual first-team starters like Perez and Atsu could certainly be beneficial.

Predicted lineup to face Blackburn: Woodman; Sterry, Lejeune, Fernandez, Manquillo; Atsu, Hayden, Longstaff, Kenedy; Perez, Joselu.

Related Topics