Newcastle will take a depleted squad to Chelsea on Saturday evening.
With no January signings so far, Rafa Benitez has limited options as he prepares to take on one of the Premier League’s elite sides.
Injuries and ineligibility have hampered Newcastle’s squad, so how will the Magpies lineup?
Premier League return for Lejeune?
Benitez confirmed in his press conference that Paul Dummett is ruled out. That means that there will be at least one change at centre-back.
However, should Benitez actually make two changes and go for his best defensive trio? Federico Fernandez is available after his injury, while Florian Lejeune returned to first team action in the FA Cup last week. This pair should flank captain Jamaal Lascelles as the three Newcastle centre-backs, while DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Ritchie continue at wing-back.
Chance for Longstaff
Newcastle’s midfield options have taken a hit over the past few weeks. Ki Sung-yueng is away on international duty, Jonjo Shelvey has gone to see a specialist about his thigh problem, while Mo Diame is a huge doubt after coming off against Manchester United.
That leaves Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff as Newcastle’s only two fit centre midfielders. One wants to leave the club and the other hasn’t started a Premier League game in his career.
It will be tough out there for the youngster, but he should certainly get a chance to prove his first-team credentials.
No change up top
Kenedy will miss the game as we prepare to take on his parent club Chelsea. Therefore, Benitez will likely have to stick with the same attacking trio that started against Manchester United.
Jacob Murphy’s performance against Blackburn means he should not start, so Salomon Rondon will be supported by Ayoze Perez and former Blue Christian Atsu.
Predicted lineup to face Chelsea: Dubravka; Fernandez, Lascelles, Lejeune; Yedlin, Hayden, Longstaff, Ritchie; Perez, Atsu, Rondon.