Steve McClaren is losing patience with some of his Newcastle United players – but will he make any changes at Selhurst Park?
Head coach McClaren’s options are limited by injury and a lack of squad depth.
But which under-performing players should fear for their places against Crystal Palace?
Steve McClaren can’t drop captain Fabricio Coloccini, can he?
But Coloccini, on form, shouldn’t be in McClaren’s starting XI.
Bar the recent game against Bournemouth, the defender has struggled for form.
Not only that, there’s a chronic lack of leadership on the pitch, and Coloccini, as skipper, has also been found wanting.
Coloccini’s never been much of a talker – at his best he leads by example – but he’s not even been doing that this season.
McClaren opted to keep him as captain this season on the eve of the season – there were others seemingly better suited to the role – and it seemed a muddled decision, at best.
Maybe it’s no wonder that the team has been so muddled on the pitch.
Moussa Sissoko talks a good game in his native France, but his feet haven’t been doing his talking on English soil.
When United managing director Lee Charnley in September talked of keeping the club’s “best players” at St James’s Park, presumably Sissoko was one of those he was referring to.
But the midfielder has not been one of Newcastle’s best players this season. Far from it.
And fewer and fewer fans would be sorry to see Sissoko leave in January.
Sissoko, it’s clear, is ambitious. There’s nothing wrong with that.
However, if he is to get his move to a “big club” (his words), he must start delivering on the pitch for another big club ... the one he’s already employed by.
A couple of times this season, Aleksandar Mitrovic has claimed that he was “too tired” to speak to journalists in post-game mixed zones.
That’s fair enough.
But the striker can’t have been particularly fatigued after the club’s defeat to Leicester City.
The summer signing went missing midway through the first half.
Admittedly, United struggled to get the ball too him, but that wasn’t the whole story.
Mitrovic, up to now, has looked a formidable player when things are going well for Newcastle. He’s looked a little less formidable when things haven’t been going so well.
And sulking and indiscipline aren’t becoming of a player who would like, one day, to wear the club’s iconic No 9 jersey.