Newcastle boss Steve Bruce could have Federico Fernandez available this weekend but he has to stick with Ciaran Clark.

The Argentine defender has been missing for over a month with a calf problem but The Chronicle claim he could return on Saturday.

That leaves Bruce with something of a dilemma.

The Magpies haven’t kept a clean sheet in February and the boss might opt to mix things up a bit.

Newcastle United v Middlesbrough - Pre-Season Friendly
(Photo; Serena Taylor; Newcastle United; Getty Images)

Plenty have called for Martin Dubravka to return in goal but supporters might demand changes across the back line too.

Fernandez is normally a reliable performer and it would be no surprise to see him start this weekend.

With Jamaal Lascelles the captain, plenty will view Clark as the fall guy but that shouldn’t be the case.

A quick glance at the 31-year-old’s statistics from the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United suggest why he should keep his shirt.

 

According to Who Scored, he won five aerial challenges, made five clearances, won two tackles and as many interceptions in the Old Trafford clash.

Clark has been at St James’ Park since 2016 and the £35,000-a-week player has proved a steady performer for Newcastle over the years.

He has made 107 appearances for the club, helping the Magpies back into the Premier League during the 2016/17 campaign.

After missing the back end of last season with an ankle problem, his form of late has perhaps been the most impressive spell of his time at the club.

(Photo; Mark Fletcher; MI News; NurPhoto; Getty Images)

He has stepped into the breach in Fernandez’s absence and in truth, has been better than Lascelles.

It does seem unlikely that Bruce will dump his captain on the bench but he shouldn’t bin Clark either.

As a result, Fernandez might just have to be patient when it comes to returning to the starting eleven.

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