Steve Bruce names surprise Newcastle United starting XI

Dwight Gayle has been handed a start for Newcastle United at Molineux.
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Steve Bruce’s side take on Wolverhampton Wanderers this afternoon (3pm kick-off) looking to end a run of three successive Premier League defeats.

Striker Gayle – who has played just 152 minutes of league football this season and whose future has been the subject of speculation – is one of four players who come into the side held to a 1-1 draw by Rochdale last weekend.

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Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Jetro Willems also come into the injury-hit team, which doesn’t have a recognised right-back.

Andy Carroll has been named on the bench for 13th-placed United after recovering from a hip problem. Matt Ritchie and Florian Lejeune are also among the substitutes.

Bruce is still without winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who made a tentative return to training this week after recovering from a hamstring problem.

“It’s difficult,” said head coach Steve Bruce. “We’re counting bodies at the minute. I said before the start it was a ridiculous schedule (over the festive period), and I think this is the consequence of it. People are playing tired. We have to get on with it.”

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Meanwhile, defender Kelland Watts, recalled from a loan at Stevenage this week, is on the bench along with striker Tom Allan.

Steve Bruce at Molineux.Steve Bruce at Molineux.
Steve Bruce at Molineux.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka, Hayden, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Willems, Almiron, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Joelinton, Gayle. Subs: Darlow, Carroll, Ritchie, Lejeune, Atsu, Watts, Allan.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Jonny, Moutinho, Neves, Traore, Jimenez, Neto. Subs: Ruddy, Bennett, Gibbs-White, Vinagre, Kilman, Ashley-Seal, Buur.