In just under 10 days time, domestic football will finally return at St James’ Park as we take on Bournemouth in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.
Sadly for them, all of our World Cup representatives have now bowed out of the tournament in Qatar, however it’s thought those players will be given a break to recover from a potentially draining few weeks.
With that in mind, it’s highly likely that Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson, Nick Pope, Bruno Guimaraes and Fabian Schar won’t feature, meaning we could see a new-look side line up against the Cherries next week.
As things stand, I’d expect us to line up something like this…
(4-3-3): Karius – Manquillo, Lascelles, Botman, Targett – Shelvey, Willock, S Longstaff – Almiron, Wood, Saint-Maximin.
Karius was brilliant in our 5-0 win over Al-Hilal – a game an unwell Karl Darlow didn’t feature in – while Manquillo is likely to get another start at right-back, as Krafth is still missing after an ACL injury.
It’s an ideal game for Targett to play after losing his place to Burn in the Premier League, with Lascelles and Botman seeming a likely partnership if Schar is given time off.
Willock, Shelvey and Longstaff could make up our midfield three, providing there’s no Bruno. Joelinton could well start, but that will depend on the hamstring niggle he picked up against Al-Hilal.
In attack, Isak is still edging his way back from a thigh injury and Wilson may not be risked after missing a few England sessions with a ‘muscle strain’, so Wood leading the line with Almiron and ASM either side could make up our front three.