With Sean Longstaff suspended, logic suggested Newcastle would simply recall Isaac Hayden to replace him, but the Chronicle reports Steve Bruce may also restore Jonjo Shelvey to the lineup.
While Hayden is a shoe-in to return following his suspension, Matty Longstaff would likely be left out to accommodate Shelvey, which would be harsh on the youngster, who has done well in his first three games.
It would be a huge call from Bruce, with Shelvey looking desperately out of form when he has been involved so far this season, and desperate seems an apt word when describing the manager’s thought process.
Bruce needs something to happen for the side, and may see tinkering with the midfield as the short-term answer to helping provide ammunition for the struggling Joelinton.
We look at the arguments both for, and against, playing Shelvey at West Ham on Saturday.
Shelvey offers something unique when he is on his game
The former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder often looks uninterested when things are not going his way, which often leads to criticism that he is lazy.
Unfortunately, things have not been going his way during most of the games he has played recently, and that has seen him plodding around in games, and not able to get involved.
But when he is on top of his game, he can ping 40- and 50-yard passes all around the pitch – something no other player in the Newcastle team can do consistently.
If he is able to pick out the perfect pass, which in turn creates the chances we have so far been missing, Shelvey could be pivotal to the side.
Bruce may hope playing against the side who reportedly wanted to sign him, and the club he supported as a boy, may motivate him to rediscover his lost form.
If that is the case, starting Shelvey at the London Stadium could be a masterstroke from Bruce.
Recent form suggests he does not deserve a starting spot
If Shelvey does get the nod on Saturday, it can only be due to a gut feeling from the manager, as his recent form suggests he should be nowhere near the starting XI.
There are only limited places to play in a Premier League football team, and those starting spots are so precious, they must be earned, not granted on a whim.
Nothing about Shelvey’s displays this season – whether from the bench or starting – shows he warrants, or deserves, to start a game over Matty Longstaff.
In fact, the two players are like polar opposites: Matty is energetic, exuberant and constantly on the move looking to be involved in the action; Shelvey is lethargic, nonchalant and often static, drifting out of the game for long periods.
As a fan, there is currently only one of those differing styles that appeal to me, and it is not the one Shelvey offers.
It is a big risk to hope he turns it on when given his chance, and it is a risk not worth taking, in my opinion.
Matty Longstaff may not be able to sustain a long run in the side over the season, but for now, in the absence of his older brother, he is definitely a better alternative than Shelvey.