Tuesday night is Newcastle United‘s biggest game of the season so far, as they face Southampton in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi final.
The Magpies eased past Leicester to reach the final four, while the Saints did the unthinkable in beating Manchester City at St Mary’s.
That is the venue for the first leg, with Newcastle then welcoming Nathan Jones’ side to St James’ Park next week.
Eddie Howe’s side go into the tie as favourites, but Southampton’s win over Man City proves that they must not be underestimated.
Newcastle have no fresh injury concerns for the trip down south, and this is our predicted Toon starting lineup to face Southampton
Newcastle look for another clean sheet
Newcastle’s success this season has been built on clean sheets, and Howe’s side will look to get another on Tuesday night. If they can, it will put them in a great position to reach the final at Wembley next month.
In a bid to not concede, Howe will put out his strongest back five. In the previous eight games that they have started together, Newcastle have not conceded. The only goals Newcastle have let in since the World Cup were against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup, when Howe rotated his side.
Nick Pope was at his best against Crystal Palace at the weekend, and will look to continue his rich vein of form in between the sticks.
Bruno fit to be in the Newcastle starting lineup vs Southampton
It looked like Newcastle would be sweating on Bruno Guimaraes’ fitness heading into this game, but he was actually fit enough to play the full 90 minutes versus Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The 25-year-old midfielder was a shock inclusion in the starting lineup, having shook off the ankle injury that reduced him to tears a week earlier.
His presence in the middle enhances Newcastle’s chances of getting a positive result in the first leg, and Bruno will be joined by usual suspects Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock.
Howe predicted to keep faith with Newcastle’s number nine
Callum Wilson is yet to score since returning to Newcastle after the World Cup, and concerns are beginning to emerge regarding his form.
There is certainly pressure on him to improve, with Alexander Isak now back in the fold after returning from a thigh injury.
However, we expect Howe to stick with his number nine for the trip to St Mary’s and keep Isak in reserve on the bench. But another faltering performance could see Wilson replaced by the club record signing for the second leg next week.
Predicted XI vs Southampton: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Bruno, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Joelinton.