`

Steve McClaren’s THREE key selection decisions for Newcastle-Southampton

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Steve McClaren felt he’d have a sleepless night or two as he formulated his starting XI for this afternoon’s game against Southampton.

Newcastle United’s head coach has three key decisions to make.

The first is just who will partner Steven Taylor in the heart of his defence?

Captain Fabricio Coloccini seems to be the frontrunner – despite not playing in any of the club’s pre-season fixtures because of an Achilles problem.

“He’s done the majority of the training – like the rest – but not played the games,” said McClaren

“(It is) another decision that will have to be made on the day, but sometimes the best way to get up to speed and fitness is to play.”

The other contenders are Chancel Mbemba, Mike Williamson and Jamaal Lascelles.

In midfield, who plays alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko in a three-man midfield in front of likely holding players Jack Colback and Vurnon Anita?

Gabriel Obertan, Ayoze Perez, Rolando Aarons and Yoan Gouffran are in the frame.

And finally, does he start with Papiss Demba Cisse or Aleksandar Mitrovic up front?

Cisse has struggled for form and goals in pre-season, while McClaren will surely be tempted to ease Mitrovic – who feels he is ready to start – into the Premier League.