Without their attacking stars in recent weeks, Newcastle United will now be without Isaac Hayden for the rest of the season. His absence will be a major hurdle for the Magpies, but it will become a larger issue if Steve Bruce replaces him with this player.
When Hayden went down vs. Brighton, there was a collective groan amongst Newcastle supporters as it was Jeff Hendrick that began warming up. Not long after he came on, Hendrick could be spotted not closing down on Leandro Trossard as he scored the opening goal of the blowout defeat.
Outside of Bruce, Hendrick may be the person that fans are the most done with on matchdays. He impressed in the opener this season with a goal and an assist, but it’s been all downhill from there and the club can’t afford to have him replace Hayden.
This situation would be completely different if Hendrick was the only viable option to replace Hayden. But, that’s not the case for the Magpies.
Bruce could turn to either of the Longstaff brothers to step in for Hayden. Stuck with the U23s for much of the season, Matty would bring a much-needed spark of energy and can help drive the midfield forward into the attack for the first team. Sean would be able to provide another distributor in the position and is likely motivated to show that he deserves a chance in the rotation.
With Isaac Hayden done for the season, Newcastle United cannot afford Jeff Hendrick being his replacement.
Then, there’s always the route of tactically adjusting the starting lineup. Instead of replacing Hayden with another central midfielder, Bruce could move back to just two players in that position (Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock) and add another attacking midfielder or a true striker.
Whether he decides to make a simple swap in midfielders or if he does change tactics, Bruce cannot afford to pencil Jeff Hendrick into the starting XI. Newcastle United’s safety in the Premier League could depend on that.