With Fulham losing in the final moments to Wolves, Newcastle United have a great opportunity to take all three points tomorrow when they face Burnley and move further away from the relegation zone.
While Steve Bruce will be happy to get Callum Wilson back, the Magpies will be going to battle without their captain as Jamaal Lascelles is out with a foot injury.
That will force Bruce to make some adjustments on the backend to make up for the absence of the backline’s vocal leader and a skilled central defender.
The timing of Lascelles going out does come at a decent moment as Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark are both now available. Clark was available on the bench vs. Spurs and Fernandez has missed multiple weeks.
Against Spurs, Bruce started Paul Dummett, Lascelles, and Emil Krafth in central defense, flanked by two wing-backs. Tomorrow, they face Burnley, who have scored less than half the goals that Tottenham has.
That should have Bruce move into a typical four-man backline. It’s fair to assume that Krafth will be dropped after another disappointing performance last week. With that, he could go with the returning pair of Clark and Fernandez as the central defenders. If he keeps Dummett there instead, I’d expect him to plug Fernandez in next to him.
Without Lascelles, the captain’s armband will almost certainly go to Jonjo Shelvey. Other options for the captaincy could be Wilson, Fernandez, or even Martin Dubravka.
Tomorrow should be a good indicator of how Bruce will adjust without Lascelles, who is nearly a lock for the starting XI every time out. Now, Newcastle must prepare for their future minus the 27-year-old center-back.