After the highs of the Southampton win, Newcastle have experienced back-to-back defeats.

We were dominated at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea, in a game where we struggled to lay a glove on the Blues.

Then we went to Old Trafford and played well for 50 minutes, only to lose the game 3-1.

And with Fulham’s form improving, the threat of relegation is looming larger than it ever has this season.

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We have a three point gap between ourselves and the bottom three, with a chance to extend that gap against Wolves on Saturday night.

But what team should Steve Bruce pick? Here is what we think the Magpies starting XI should be.

Dubravka return

It was reported in the Telegraph earlier in the week that Martin Dubravka is set to return.

This is a huge boost. Despite Karl Darlow’s fantastic start to the campaign, Dubravka is without a doubt the best goalkeeper at the club.

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Hopefully his presence can relieve some of the pressure on the defence. Whilst he’s a great shot stopper, Dubravka’s strength is the way he can command his box. He’s a leader too, which is something we’ve lacked recently.

One change in defence

Federico Fernandez could be available for selection, having not featured since the defeat to Sheffield United.

Fernandez has probably been Newcastle’s best defender this season, but we should hold off on his return.

While Jamaal Lascelles is struggling for form, we can’t afford for Fernandez to come back too soon and potentially reinjure himself.

The one change that should happen in defence is the return of Paul Dummett.

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Jamal Lewis is going through a rough patch. Both of our full-backs are struggling, but Lewis’ confidence seems to be at rock bottom.

As we scrap for points, we need defenders we can rely on. Therefore, Paul Dummett should come in at left-back.

While he has no attacking qualities, he’s as reliable as they come defensively.

Change in midfield system

Ever since the win over Everton, Newcastle have used a diamond in midfield.

It has brought success, but we’ve seen its limitations in recent weeks.

 

Both Chelsea and Manchester United overloaded us in wide areas, as we had no natural wingers to protect the full-backs.

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Meanwhile, without Callum Wilson, the diamond shape limits our ability to get players in goalscoring positions.

Therefore, Bruce must shift to a 4-2-3-1 system. That means we would have two midfielders sitting in front of the defence, while we have two proper wide players who can get balls into the box but also provide defensive cover.

On top of that, we have one out-and-out striker.

But a change in system will force multiple changes to the starting XI.

First of all, Jonjo Shelvey needs some time out of the side. The £12million midfielder is struggling to influence games.

When Shelvey is in form, there aren’t many midfielders better than him. Sadly, he hasn’t been in form all season.

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Isaac Hayden has to start, and he should be paired alongside Joe Willock. Both players have good energy and can help win back possession quickly.

Ryan Fraser should come into the team, as this seems like the best way to get more out of the summer signing.

So far, Fraser’s arrival has been disappointing. He’s been in and out of the team, unable to recapture the form that made him so impressive at Bournemouth.

With him on one wing and Allan Saint-Maximin on the other, we can be a threat all over the pitch.

And as always, Miguel Almiron must play centrally.

Dwight Gayle should start over Joelinton

Scoring goals without Wilson is tough.

Dwight Gayle didn’t even get close against Chelsea. He was replaced by Joelinton at Old Trafford, but he was equally as ineffective.

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The Brazilian showed some nice touches, but his goalscoring instinct failed to kick in once again.

Bruce needs to find a way of scoring goals without Wilson. Of all the strikers available, Gayle is our best bet.

With Almiron, Fraser and Saint-Maximin in support, we should be able to create more chances. Who would you back to tuck one of them away? My money is on Gayle over the club record signing.

How Newcastle should lineup vs Wolves: Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Willock, Hayden; Fraser, Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Gayle.

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