Will Newcastle United's forgotten FIVE  – Jack Colback & Rolando Aarons et al – get a Carabao Cup recall against Leicester City?

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is facing up to a injury conundrum for this evening's second round Carabao Cup visit of Leicester City.

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 06:00 am
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 30: Rolando Aarons of Newcastle United is seen in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Hibernian and Newcastle United at Easter Road on July 30, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Up to NINE of his first choice 25-man Premier League squad, FIVE of whom started in the top flight win at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, are set to be absent at St James's Park tonight - including all THREE of his front players picked in north London.

Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle and Florian Lejeune - all long-term absentees - could well be joined by Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles, Christian Atsu and Miguel Almiron on the sidelines.

That leaves Bruce with a number of decisions to make. Here we take a look at the FIVE calls the head coach must make with a place in the third round of the competition at stake tonight.

Should Bruce turn to the FIVE players he left OUT of his 25-man squad?

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Despite having signed Rolando Aarons and Achraf Lazaar for Sheffield Wednesday last season and giving Jack Colback his debut while at Sunderland, Bruce decided against naming them in his Premier League squad.

That has left the trio - plus forgotten men Jamie Sterry and Henri Saivet - with an uncertain future, given they will be unable to play for United in the top flight.

Rules state they can, though, turn out in both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.

But should Bruce turn to them to bulk out his injury-depleted ranks?

This is a double-edged sword.

The last thing Bruce will want to be seen to do is be obviously fielding a weakened team. Turning to those he did not want in his top flight group would be seen by many as a sign of his intent not to take this seriously - which is contrast to his very public views on the competition.

What it would do is take some pressure off.

It seems very unlikely he will do it, mind.

Is a formation switch on the cards?

Numbers are light in attacking areas for Bruce tonight so we might see another little tweak to the system, despite it reaping rewards at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

United's injury-depleted ranks are weighted heavily from back to front with strikers very light on the ground and defenders aplenty.

We could see Bruce move to a 5-4-1 with the onus on players such as youngster Matty Longstaff and Matt Ritchie to provide support from Yoshinori Muto up top.

The manager could always play the same system but it would require square pegs in round holes - in truth, there is little system that is a perfect fit for everyone available.

Should Matt Ritchie be pushed further up the field?

As mentioned above, Ritchie is one of the only remaining players in the group who has operated in advanced areas.

It seems like Bruce will have little option to push Ritchie back to his more natural position, on the right, just off the front.

It might also be the case that he's asked to play in midfield and asked to break as much as possible, whether wide or central.

Ritchie has looked every bit at home on the left-hand side for United, but his most successful time at the club came in his first two seasons under Rafa Benitez, when he played on the right of a 4-2-3-1.

What he lacks in a yard of pace, or ability to beat a man, he more than makes up for with effort, attitude, work-rate and delivery.

Is it the right call to play Sean Longstaff?

No player covered more kilometers on Sunday at Spurs than Longstaff.

Take into account his all-action, lung-busting performance also came in near 30c heat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and it's easy to see why Bruce may consider taking the player out of the firing line.

It is easy to forget that Longstaff only broke on the scene last season, and has started just a couple of games since his season-ending knee injury in March.

With Watford in Toon on Saturday, it would be no surprise to see the older of the Longstaff brothers wrapped up in cotton wool and replaced by younger brother Matty Longstaff.

Jonjo Shelvey was benched and is likely to slot straight back in, likely with a point to prove, while Ki Seung-yung did not even make the matchday 18 at the weekend.

Can Karl Darlow expect to be brought into the starting XI?

Again this is a case of perception.

Would it send the right message to change a goalkeeper, when due to circumstances the rest of the team will no doubt be much-changed?

It is only natural for the second choice keeper to expect minutes in the League Cup, very much third choice in terms of priority for most managers in terms of competitions.

But would such a call be seen as a surrender to the 'weakened team' idea? This may not seem like a big call, but picking Martin Dubravka would certainly be seen by many as a signal of intent, no matter how bad that may be for morale in the goalkeepers' union at Benton.