Jamaal Lascelles' replacement & the captaincy - FIVE Newcastle United dilemmas for Steve Bruce ahead of Aston Villa

Steve Bruce faces the written and broadcast press a day early this week - and our NUFC writer Liam Kennedy will be at Benton this morning to speak with the Newcastle United boss.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 21st November 2019, 7:00 am
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United goes down injured after a collision with Martin Dubravka of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and AFC Bournemouth at St. James Park on November 09, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Magpies are looking to capitalise on their recent run of taking 10 points out of the last 15 in the Premier League at Villa Park, when they face an Aston Villa side coming off the back of three straight defeats.

Here's FIVE issues facing Bruce ahead of Monday night's trip back to his old club.

The captaincy

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The injury to Jamaal Lascelles leaves Bruce with a bigger hole to fill than just a place in the side.

Lascelles has been a unifying figure at United, even in the toughest of times, and for all he lacks the finesse of a Florian Lejeune or a Fabian Schar, the ball playing of Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez, he more than makes up for it with his grit, aerial prowess and leadership qualities.

Jonjo Shelvey looks like the favourite to get the armband - but is that the right call long-term when the former Liverpool, Charlton and Swansea man can't always guarantee his place in the side?

Defensive three

Five into three does not go.

Two of Fernandez, Clark, Lejeune, Schar and Paul Dummett will have to sit this one out.

It seems certain Bruce will go with the tried and tested, in-form Clark and Fernandez, but the other slot is up for debate.

Schar is likely to get the nod, but if his fitness is not right, expect Dummett to be slotted in with Clark in the centre.

Too early for Lejeune?

On social media he's said he's ready, the club are tweeting that he is, too. But is he ready to be thrown in at the deep end at Villa Park on Monday night in front of the Sky cameras?

Having got two under-23 games under his belt he's not hitting the campaign raw, but it might be a bit soon for him.

When is the right time for Andy Carroll?

He may be on the rehabilitation trail but Carroll did not sign for Newcastle to watch 70 minutes a week from the bench.

You can see he has that hunger and wants to make an impact.

The club seemed to get a little offended when it was suggested Carroll may not start a game until 2020 - well, we are only a few weeks away from that now and still no starting berth.

Dwight Gayle - use or lose

If Gayle is to stay at United he's going to want a whole lot more than just a big wedge at the end of the month.

At 29 he's at the height of his powers and should be playing week-in, week-out. But he's third in the pecking order at United and could find the pull of games a division down to strong in January, if not used.

Still feel, if he stays fit, he will be needed over the festive period - and has the goals to make a major contribution to the survival fight.