Why Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez has given Steve McClaren a ‘headache’

Ayoze Perez
Ayoze Perez

Steve McClaren has a “headache” ahead of Newcastle United’s visit to Upton Park – thanks to Ayoze Perez.

McClaren is without the suspended striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for Monday night’s televised Premier League game against West Ham United.

We have got lots of options. We’ve got them across the midfield and in the wide areas as well. It is certainly giving Steve a few headaches as to what team to pick.

Paul Simpson

Mitrovic will serve the first match of a three-game ban for his dismissal against Arsenal earlier this month.

Striker Papiss Demba Cisse is the frontrunner to replace Mitrovic in head coach McClaren’s starting XI in east London.

But assistant coach Paul Simpson has suggested that Perez and new signing Florian Thauvin are also in contention to lead the line against Slaven Bilic’s side, who beat Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield before the international break.

Perez impressed as a lone striker in the club’s Capital One Cup second-round tie against Northampton Town late last month, while winger Thauvin was moved up front against Arsenal after Mitrovic’s dismissal.

Thauvin also caught the eye against Northampton, having scored one goal and set up three more in a 4-1 win for Newcastle.

“We have got options – it has given us a lot of food for thought,” said Simpson.

“I thought the performance of Ayoze Perez against Northampton gave us a massive lift. To see him play as that lone striker was excellent. We have got Papiss Cisse who has done that job early in the season, and he is more than capable of doing it again.

“Florian Thauvin had to go and play (as a) half-striker against Arsenal, and did it very well.

“So we have got lots of options. We’ve got them across the midfield and in the wide areas as well. It is certainly giving Steve a few headaches as to what team to pick.”

Goalscoring is an area of particular concern for McClaren ahead of the West Ham match.

Second-from-bottom Newcastle have not found the net in the league since the opening weekend of the season, and McClaren’s side did not register a shot on target against Arsenal.

Cisse and Georginio Wijnaldum, signed from PSV Eindhoven, are the only players to have found the net in the league so far this season.

However, West Ham, set to welcome back former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll from long-term injury, have conceded six goals in their first two home games, which both ended in defeat for Slaven Bilic’s side.