Amidst all the chaos at Newcastle United, a game of football is threatening to break out.
The Magpies kick off pre-season against Wolves on Wednesday morning as part of the Premier League Asia Trophy. It’s an unconventional start to the summer for Newcastle, who aren’t used to playing such a strong side this early.
Combine that with the difficult playing conditions in China, and the game will be very tough for Neil Redfearn and Ben Dawson’s side.
With a new manager on the way, who will the pair select in what might be their only game in charge?
Karl Darlow in between the sticks
Martin Dubravka has travelled to China following his extended break, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play. Karl Darlow might be a better option to start the first game, saving Dubravka for Saturday.
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Rafa Benitez had been using a five at the back system, but it seems likely that we’ll revert back to a traditional back four.
With DeAndre Yedlin still injured, right-back will most likely be Javi Manquillo. While on the other side should be Paul Dummett. However, we may see Achraf Lazaar at some point in the game.
Like Dubravka, Fabian Schar had an extended break, meaning he may not start. At centre-back, we’ve gone with Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez.
A chance for Shelvey and Ki
Last season, there was a lot of talk about the potential partnership of Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yueng. We never saw it, and hopefully that will change against Wolves. The pair are both good on the ball and showed at Swansea that they can work together.
The other central options are Sean Longstaff who’s been out with a knee injury, Isaac Hayden who wants to leave, and Jack Colback who probably can’t believe his luck.
Matt Ritchie seems certain to start on the right, but the left-hand side is less clear. We’ll go with Rolando Aarons to get the nod.
Limited options up top
Since Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Joselu have all left the club, our attacking options are limited. Therefore, it’s hard to see past a pairing of Yoshinori Muto and Dwight Gayle.
Predicted lineup to face Wolves: Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; Ritchie, Shelvey, Ki, Aarons; Muto, Gayle.