Newcastle United can move one step closer to securing Champions League football if they can see off Brighton & Hove Albion at St James’ Park on Thursday.
The Magpies stumbled to a 2-2 draw with relegation-threatened Leeds United last time out, but have generally been in superb form despite being put under pressure for their place in the top four by Manchester United and Liverpool – two teams used to competing at this end of the table.
Eddie Howe’s side have a terrific home record to lean on for the visit of Brighton, who have quality players throughout their team and have been one of the Premier League‘s surprise packages. Indeed, they have aspirations of finishing inside the top six and victory here would edge take to the brink of fulfilling that ambition.
Here’s how Howe, with a little sprinkling of Jason Tindall help, may line Newcastle up come kick off.
GK: Nick Pope – Made a vital penalty save from Leeds striker Patrick Bamford at the weekend, which ended up earning Newcastle a share of the spoils in a game they really ought to have won.
RB: Kieran Trippier – There’s no denying that Trippier’s levels have dipped in recent weeks so return to firing on all cylinders would be most welcome.
CB: Fabian Schar – Has formed a tremendous partnership with Sven Botman in central defence and has a cannon of a long shot in his arsenal.
CB: Sven Botman – The more understated and reserved of Newcastle‘s defensive duo, Botman has shown why many of Europe’s top clubs were sniffing around prior to him playing in black and white.
LB: Dan Burn – The Premier League’s most unconventional full-back has been one of the Premier League’s best performing full-backs. Football, eh?
DM: Bruno Guimaraes – Is one of those players that just stands out from the crowd because everything looks so effortless.
CM: Joe Willock – Has many sections of the Newcastle fanbase urging Gareth Southgate to reward recent performances with an England call-up.
CM: Joelinton – There’s not many positional reinventions in Premier League history better than Joelinton’s.
RW: Jacob Murphy – Made way for Miguel Almiron against Leeds despite a recent goalscoring blitz against Tottenham and Everton. Could earn a recall.
CF: Callum Wilson – 17 goals in 28 Premier League outings, a rate of a goal every 100 minutes, is bloody good going.
LW: Alexander Isak – The Swede’s glut of goals has dried up of late but there’s no much to his game. A real livewire…