Eddie Howe must stick with Federico Fernandez against Burnley - opinion
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Eddie Howe must stick with Federico Fernandez against Burnley - opinion

Eddie Howe has a big decision to make when Newcastle face Burnley on Saturday.

The manager was forced into two changes against Norwich, with Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie picking up suspensions.

Now Howe will have to make another change in defence, with Ciaran Clark serving a ban after his moment of madness against the Canaries. His red card cost us on Tuesday night, and it will cost Clark his place in the starting XI.

It means we will see at least one change to the starting XI, and it’s a change that Howe needs to get right. But who should the 44-year-old go with at centre-back?

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Jamaal Lascelles is available again

After serving his one-game ban, Jamaal Lascelles will be available for selection once again.

The captain scored in Howe’s first game in charge, but hasn’t performed brilliantly at the back. However, he’d likely be a mainstay for Howe had it not been for suspension.

Despite his poor form, Howe praised Lascelles’ ‘good experience’ in the aftermath of the Arsenal defeat.

Clark’s red card could hand the 28-year-old an immediate route back into the starting XI. However, that’s a decision that wouldn’t go down well with fans.

And it’s a decision that Howe must avoid.

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Federico Fernandez deserves to start against Burnley

When Clark was sent off, Howe turned to Federico Fernandez to shore up his defence.

The 32-year-old replaced Ryan Fraser, making his first Toon appearance since the 2-1 defeat to Wolves away from home.

Fernandez hasn’t even been on the bench in recent weeks, much to the bemusement of Toon fans.

But he was recalled to the squad on Tuesday, and handed an immediate route back into the team by Clark’s mistake.

It was an opportunity Fernandez took with both hands, putting in a sensational performance. He was arguably Newcastle’s best player against Norwich. The manager was certainly impressed, calling Fernandez’s performance ‘outstanding’.

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He was composed but assertive in his defending, playing as if he’d never been away.

While Howe might be tempted to bring his captain straight back into the team, it would be the wrong decision.

Lascelles is massively out of form, while Fernandez proved on Tuesday how good he is. The 2018 Rafa Benitez signing should start against the Clarets, not Lascelles.

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