The season has just begun for Newcastle United, but Steve Bruce already has a big decision to make.
Newcastle United are flying high at the moment for a few reasons. Firstly, some quality, Premier League-proven players have been signed. Secondly, some of those new signings scored twice yesterday to secure three points against West Ham.
Newcomers Callum Wilson, Jeff Hendrick, and Jamal Lewis started against West Ham, while Ryan Fraser and Mark Gillespie remained on the bench.
Yesterday’s lineup took most fans by surprise, primarily because of the formation (4-4-2), as well as the fact that Miguel Almiron and Matt Ritchie did not start.
It was an odd call by Steve Bruce, but the decision did not hinder the Magpies’ performance as they won by two goals and claimed a clean sheet. Bruce will need to be creative once again, but he must also be cautious when his team competes in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
Newcastle United were drawn to play against Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers, and if they advance they will take on the winner of Oldham Athletic and Morecambe.
The Magpies’ odds of getting through the next two rounds are high as they are the superior side, by a large margin, but should Bruce deploy a strong lineup, or should he give bench players and outcasts a chance?
The Carabao Cup is a respected competition, but it is nowhere near as prestigious as the FA Cup. When it comes to domestic competitions, success in the FA Cup is a primary objective for the Toon, and they had a good run last season before being eliminated by Manchester City in the quarter-final.
Newcastle United have sufficient talent all over the pitch to field a mixed team of regular starters and reserves to, at the very least, get past Blackburn Rovers and one of the League Two sides in the following round.
These games are perfect opportunities for players like Mark Gillespie, Joelinton, Christian Atsu, the Longstaff brothers, DeAndre Yedlin, Jacob Murphy, and others to get some time on the pitch.
The important thing for Newcastle United is to avoid injuries. Based on the team’s performance against West Ham, the Toon finally have a squad that that can compete head to head with most teams in the Premier League.
In the end, Bruce calls the shots, but he would be wise to save his key players for the Premier League and FA Cup.