The season-defining decision Newcastle United & Steve Bruce CAN'T get wrong & Magpies selection headaches discussed – a Q&A with Miles Starforth & Liam Kennedy
The return to fitness of Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin has given Steve Bruce an interesting selection issue in the final third as Newcastle United prepare for the visit of Jose Mourinho, Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur.
To pick or not to pick? That is the question. While our writer Liam Kennedy wants to see Wilson thrown right back in, colleague Miles Starforth has urged caution, claiming it’s a decision that could, in many ways, prove season-defining.
Here’s a team selection Q&A with our two Newcastle United scribes...
Do you expect Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin to be fit for Sunday?
MS: "I’m expecting at least one of them to be available, and hopefully both of them. The international break came at the right time for them, and, certainly, their return would be timely. That said, Bruce and his staff can’t get this wrong, as a setback for either would be devastating for them - and the club.”
LK: "Yes. I have a feeling only one will start, though. And I think that might be Wilson."
Who will likely replace Isaac Hayden?
MS: "Jeff Hendrick is seemingly next in line for a game, though, on form, the midfielder shouldn’t be picked. Certainly, Hendrick won’t have taken much, if any, confidence from the Republic of Ireland’s international games - and he’ll also be tired.”
LK: "Jeff Hendrick. I think Bruce wants experience and will bring in a player with international experience and a whole load of Premier League appearances under his belt. Do I think that would be the right call? No. Hendrick has been as passive as anyone in this United side this season and even though options are limited, I believe Newcastle can do better with what they have in reserve in this department."
But who do you think should?
MS: "For me, it’s got to be one of the Longstaff brothers, though their bizarre exclusion since January has left them short of match fitness.”
LK: "A Longstaff. Plain and simple. Either one. I'd prefer Matty Longstaff but Sean Longstaff seems to be ahead of him (just) in Bruce's thoughts."
Is it the right time to bring back Federico Fernandez?
MS: "Yes, I think there’s a strong case for his calmness and experience. Ciaran Clark’s had a tough international break, so he’s the obvious candidate to come out of the starting XI.”
LK: "I argued the case that Newcastle United mut play their best players when Martin Dubravka was on the bench and Karl Darlow in the team. This situation is no different. So for me, yes, Fernandez has to play. Making a case for who he comes in for is a little more challenging. On current form I'd take out Ciaran Clark, ahead of Jamaal Lascelles. The skipper is having a decent run, even if I think Irishman Clark is a slightly more accomplished defender."
Newcastle United v Spurs: Writer result and scoreline prediction...
MS: "If Wilson and Saint-Maximin are fit enough to start, then maybe, just maybe, Newcastle can claim all three points. I’ll go for a 2-1 home win."
LK: "Draw. I feel Newcastle can get something on Sunday. 1-1."