Is this Newcastle’s best 11 when everyone is fit and available? – 6 changes

It’s been a LONG time since Eddie Howe had the luxury of selecting his best possible 11, with injuries and suspension causing issues all season.

When everyone is fit and available, what is our strongest XI? A debate that will divide opinions, I’m sure, but this is what I’d go with.

(4-3-3): Pope – Trippier, Schar, Botman, Livramento – Tonali, Guimaraes, Joelinton – Gordon, Isak, Barnes. 

It shows how stretched we are that SIX of these players didn’t start our 4-4 draw with Luton last weekend.

Starting in goal, it has to be Nick Pope. Martin Dubravka’s distribution is better and the Slovakian has performed well since the turn of the year after an unconvincing December, but Pope’s shot-stopping, speed off his line (allowing us to play a higher line) and ability to claim crosses gives confidence to our back four and proved key last season.

Three of the back four picks itself, then there’s Tino Livramento vs Dan Burn. The latter is a great squad player and has earned to right to be a big favourite of Howe’s, but Tino’s ability to snuff out quality wingers and progressiveness in possession make him a superior option at both ends.

At the time of writing, our midfield is sorely lacking options due to injury and suspension, but we have plenty of exciting options when everyone is available. Bruno is the first name on the team sheet, Joelinton is our midfield destroyer and Sandro Tonali will soon make that right-sided No 8 role his own when eligible to return next season. That sees Joe Willock, Lewis Miley, Sean Longstaff and Elliot Anderson miss out. That may seem harsh on Miley and Willock – who is a huge player for us when fit – but it shows the quality of our squad when we finally get players back.

In attack, the elite Alexander Isak leads the line and I believe there’s a route to Harvey Barnes and Anthony Gordon starting in the same team. The former Leicester winger has played the vast majority of his football on the left and…


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Author : Olly Hawkins

Publish date : 2024-02-07 15:30:07

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