With injury concerns mounting and Miguel Almiron now unavailable (BBC Sport), Jeff Hendrick will be targeting a Newcastle recall for the trip to Manchester United on Saturday.
Steve Bruce could go into the clash against his former club without Callum Wilson and Almiron, which is half of Newcastle’s attacking threat with Allan Saint-Maximin and £25m signing (Sky Sports) Joe Willock completing the club’s expansive quartet.
With Wilson and the Paraguayan international expected to miss the match against Cristiano Ronaldo and co, Bruce will have to make changes which could see him tweak the formation and game plan to prevent a drubbing.
Hendrick recall for Newcastle
Hendrick is yet to feature in the Premier League this season with his only appearance so far coming in the penalty shootout defeat to his former club Burnley in the Carabao Cup.
With Jonjo Shelvey out with a calf injury, Ryan Fraser departing the Scotland team hotel wearing a protective boot and on crutches, Isaac Hayden a doubt with a knee injury and Matty Longstaff on loan at Aberdeen, Hendrick will fancy his chances of getting the nod from Bruce to start on Saturday.
The 29-year-old will be coming into a side that will have to work incredibly hard out of possession. They will need to stay disciplined, sitting deep as they aim to stop Manchester United’s wealth of attackers.
It won’t be a game where Hendrick will have plenty of touches of the ball, but instead he will have to prevent the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba from dictating the game.
It could be a game where the 90 minutes feels like an eternity for the Newcastle players, but if they do the dirty work and stay resolute, they could frustrate the Red Devils.
How did Hendrick fare for Ireland?
In last night’s World Cup qualifier, Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 against Serbia.
Hendrick played 77 minutes before being replaced at a time when ROI were still trailing.
The former Burnley man had three shots on goal (no Irish player had more) and was one of two players to register a shot on target (WhoScored).
He had 62 touches and completed 37 of his 47 attempted passes (79%).
The game against Serbia would have been a good dress rehearsal for Hendrick ahead of potentially featuring against Manchester United, as the Irish were under pressure throughout.
But if Hendrick does start against Manchester United, he may struggle to amass as many touches and complete as many passes as he did last night.
Concentration and leading the charts in tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocked shots will be where the plaudits will be won for Hendrick come Saturday at 5pm.