Four big Newcastle United selection dilemmas facing Eddie Howe against Wolves
Eddie Howe is facing some big calls for Newcastle United as they prepare to host Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’ Park this Sunday (4:30pm kick-off).
Newcastle have lost their last three matches 2-0 and have won just one of their last eight Premier League games. Given the team’s dip in form and the fact they have only scored three league goals since Boxing Day, Howe could be tempted to make some changes to help his side get back on track.
Here are the selection dilemmas facing Howe this weekend...
Fabian Schar has arguably been one of Newcastle's most consistent performers this season at centre-back but missed the previous match due to a concussion injury. Club captain Jamaal Lascelles came into the side in Schar’s place and gave a good account of himself despite the defeat.
While Lascelles’ performance will have certainly given Howe some food for thought, Schar has returned to training ahead of the game and is set to be available for selection.
Verdict: Given Schar’s performances, he should get the nod over Lascelles providing he is fully fit.
Matt Targett v Dan Burn
Matt Targett’s return to fitness combined with Newcastle's recent defensive slip-ups have led to calls for the former Aston Villa man to return to the side at left-back. The 27-year-old has been limited to just four starts this season but poses more of an attacking threat than Burn.
Burn is a natural centre-back but Newcastle’s best run of form this season came with him playing on the left of the back four. And Howe has remained loyal to the Blyth-born defender by continuing to name him at left-back despite recent issues.
Verdict: It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Burn keep his place but Targett should be given an opportunity as the side looks to end its goal drought.
Alexander Isak v Callum Wilson
Callum Wilson has scored once in his last 14 matches for Newcastle and has admitted he needs to improve his form in front of goal. Meanwhile, Alexander Isak has impressed off the bench and posed a threat despite only scoring once himself since returning from injury.
Wilson has looked jaded following the World Cup break and arguably should have been benched for Isak at Man City, where he started the match and squandered a first half opportunity.
But Howe has said Isak is still working up to full fitness following an extended spell on the sidelines between September and January.
Verdict: Newcastle’s record signing should be given another opportunity with Wilson taken out of the firing line.
Allan Saint-Maximin v Miguel Almiron v Anthony Gordon
Allan Saint-Maximin had shown signs of promise before he was dropped for Anthony Gordon to be handed his full debut last weekend. Saint-Maximin scored a stunning late equaliser against Wolves back in August and impressed on his last outing at St James’ Park against Liverpool.
Newcastle's top scorer Miguel Almiron has seen his form dip following a purple patch and has struggled to impact recent matches while Gordon is still getting to grips with his new surroundings.
Verdict: With Joeltinon suspended, Saint-Maximin should start on the left-wing for Newcastle. A full home debut for Gordon could also give the side a boost and give Almiron a needed rest.