After a setback against Crystal Palace, Newcastle welcome a depleted Southampton side to St James’ Park.

The Saints head north on the back of another horrendous 9-0 defeat, while they’ve also got plenty of injury problems.

Steve Bruce has his own issues though, so how will he line up against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side?

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Fingers crossed Clark makes it

Bruce confirmed ahead of the game that Newcastle have a bit of an injury crisis at the back.

Jamal Lewis, Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett have all been ruled out.

There’s also a chance Ciaran Clark won’t play, as his partner is due to give birth.

If he misses out, Isaac Hayden will likely slot in alongside Fabian Schar. But we’re going to hope that luck is on our side and that Clark manages to make it.

Left back is the bigger issue. It’s a toss up between Javi Manquillo or Matt Ritchie, who almost left the club on deadline day.

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Manquillo is the better option, boasting a lot more experience on the left side of defence. That creates an opening on the right for Emil Krafth, who was on the bench against Palace.

Substitute role for Willock

Newcastle did do some business on deadline day, signing Joe Willock on loan from Arsenal.

Bruce has confirmed he will be involved, although it seems likely he’ll have a role off the bench rather than from the start.

Saint-Maximin in, Hendrick out

This is more out of hope than expectation.

In his pre-match press conference, Bruce stated that Saint-Maximin is ready to start, so it would be a surprise if he wasn’t in the XI.

However, his return may cause a change in formation. Ryan Fraser has impressed lately, while Miguel Almiron looks revitalised in a more central role.

Dropping either of them would be harsh, meaning Bruce might need to adapt his shape.

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In an ideal world, Newcastle will revert to a 4-2-3-1, with Saint-Maximin taking Hendrick’s place in the side.

That would force Jonjo Shelvey to drop deeper alongside Hayden, while Toon fans will see the front four we’ve been craving for months.

If the gloves truly are off, Bruce has to get his best attacking options all playing together – and this is his first chance to do so.

Predicted XI to face Southampton: Darlow; Krafth, Schar, Clark, Manquillo; Hayden, Shelvey; Fraser, Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Wilson.

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