COMMENT By Harvey Byrne
Rafa Benitez should make three changes to his Newcastle starting XI for the Toon’s clash against Wigan on Wednesday evening.
The Magpies battled to a convincing 4-0 victory over Birmingham in their last outing, but Benitez must rotate his attackers in the busy fixture period.
Attackers Yoan Gouffran and Mohamed Diame should be left out of the line-up with a clash against Burton coming up on Saturday.
This is likely to see Ayoze Perez and Christian Astu come in for the pair in like for like changes.
Right-back Vurnon Anita should also drop to the bench with summer signing DeAndre Yedlin coming in.
The former Spurs player is more adept at attacking and Newcastle will be expected to be on the front foot throughout the match against 23rd placed Wigan.
Goalkeeper Karl Darlow should remain as the club’s number one after winning the position from Matz Sels earlier in the campaign.
Ahead of him must see Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett join Yedlin in the back line.
The defence have conceded just 16 goals in their 20 fixtures this campaign and they will be hoping to maintain their high standards.
Meanwhile, the midfield should be made up of consistent performers Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey.
The duo have brought Premier League class to the Toon’s midfield and they will be able to control the game against the struggling Latics.
Summer signing Matt Ritchie should keep his place in the attacking midfield three alongside Perez and Atsu.
The former Bournemouth man has been in devastating form this campaign with seven assists and five goals from 21 encounters and he will be expected to cause more problems for the Wigan defence.
Additionally, the Magpies boast goal machine Dwight Gayle upfront and he must now start the majority of the matches for the north east club in order to secure Newcastle’s return to the Premier League.
A win for Newcastle at the DW Stadium would see them reclaim the top spot in the Championship and move one point clear of Brighton.
In other Newcastle team news, Rob Elliot shared a message on Twitter after making his injury comeback on Monday evening.