Newcastle must make changes against Aston Villa.

While the first half against West Ham was promising, our collapse in the second half was deeply concerning.

We were incredibly open at the back, with the Hammers breaching our defence at will.

Going forwards we certainly carried a threat, with Allan Saint-Maximin causing plenty of problems. And with Callum Wilson there was always a chance we could score.

Newcastle United v West Ham United - Premier League
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But what changes does Steve Bruce need to make for the trip to Villa Park?

Jamal Lewis in, Matt Ritchie out

While Matt Ritchie was pivotal last season, he was wildly exposed against West Ham.

He isn’t switched on defensively, and was constantly caught out by balls over the top.

While it may have just been an off day, Newcastle have a readymade replacement sitting on the bench.

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Jamal Lewis had a tough first year at St James’ Park after his £15million move, but looked promising in pre-season. He’s got a lot more pace than the 31-year-old, with our lack of speed at the back damaging our performance last week.

Two changes at centre-back

The biggest problem against West Ham was at centre-back. It became very clear that we need reinforcements at the back.


While that hasn’t happened, Bruce does have options on the bench.

Captain Jamaal Lascelles has to start, after missing the opening game. He should come into the middle of the back three. He’s a leader, and has much more pace than his defensive teammates.

Newcastle United Training Session
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Fabian Schar should start as well, as we need someone who is stronger in possession. The Swiss international is competent with a ball at his feet, and can bring it out from the back. That’s something we missed on Sunday.

Ciaran Clark and Emil Krafth are the pair that should drop out, but only if Bruce believes Federico Fernandez can play on the left of the three. If not, then Clark should retain his place on the left.

Regardless, £5million signing Krafth must lose his place. He isn’t a centre-back.

Second Newcastle debut for Joe Willock

Joe Willock wasn’t available last week, but now he can make his second Newcastle United debut.

Fulham v Newcastle United - Premier League
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We missed his energy in the middle of the park – a box-to-box player who can go both ways.

Isaac Hayden tried to play that role but struggled, and is much more suited to a central defensive midfield role. However, it feels highly likely that that position will go to Jonjo Shelvey.

While these changes won’t guarantee victory, it should fix some of the problems we endured against West Ham.

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