Trio axed in Benitez 4-2-3-1: Newcastle best possible XI to face Reading
COMMENT By Danny Wright
Rafa Benitez must bring Dwight Gayle back into the starting line-up if he is to play his best possible team against Reading on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old has struggled to return from a hamstring injury recently, but his goalscoring appearance off the bench against Huddersfield on Saturday proved that he is ready to come back into the side.
Daryl Murphy must be sacrificed in order to accommodate for Gayle’s return.
Despite the former Ipswich striker scoring against the Terriers in the 3-1 victory, Gayle has proved with his 21 Championship goals this season that he is by far the best forward in the league and has to start.
Bentiz must make two other changes to complete his strongest line-up.
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Jack Colback must also be dropped from the Newcastle side as the former Sunderland midfielder has struggled to reach a required level of performance that is needed by a side that has ambitions of winning the league title.
Ayoze Perez should return from the bench in place of Colback, which would see Mohamed Diame drop into a deeper role alongside Jonjo Shelvey, after he started in the attacking midfield slot against Huddersfield.
Vurnon Anita should also be dropped by Benitez for a dismal performance against the Yorkshire club in which he could barely pass the ball.
Despite recently returning from a long spell on the sidelines, Anita looked as though it was way too soon for him to be handed a place in the starting line-up.
DeAndre Yedlin has been a great signing at St. James’ Park so he should return in the right-back position in place of the 27-year-old.
Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark should keep their places in the centre of defence as the pair have been a mainstay in the side for most of the campaign with Paul Dummett, who has been a joy to watch this season, keeping his place at left-back.
Drastic changes to the backline at this stage of the season could seriously derail the club’s title bid, especially against a good side like Reading who have promotion aspirations of their own.
Karl Darlow is clearly the better option in goal, as are Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu on the wing – all of which are playing well below the level of their top-flight ability.
The Magpies must make these changes to ensure that there are no surprises in their final few games of the season as they look to secure an instant return to the Premier League as champions.
In other Newcastle news, Benitez has delivered a fitness update on an injury-hit player.