Date: 8th March 2018 at 3:18pm
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Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez will be feeling the pressure ahead of what will be a crunch clash for Premier League survival against Southampton on Saturday.

The Magpies welcome their south coast counterparts to St James’ Park sitting just two points off the relegation zone, and a single point and place ahead of Mauricio Pellegrino and his men, who are also embroiled in the fight for survival.

Therefore, three points on Saturday could prove crucial for either side to lift themselves away from danger while at the same time putting one of their rivals deeper into trouble.

The Saints make the long journey to the north east off the back of a bore 0-0 draw against Stoke City, a result which was no good for either side and a match which will be forgotten to history.

Newcastle meanwhile were sank 2-0 by Liverpool, and after a sub-par performance, changes need to be made if the Magpies want to smash past Southampton.

As such, Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu and fans’ favourite Mikel Merino should be axed from the side, to be replaced by Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez and Jonjo Shelvey, who is in with a shock chance of returning after his injury blow.

At the back, Benitez should revert to a four man defence after trying to shut Liverpool out with five, Paul Dummett reverting to left back after being used as a centre half.

In midfield, the returning Shelvey should be partnered alongside Mo Diame, with the pair having shown they balance each other out well, something which collapsed when Merino was put in place of the English maestro.

The change in defence means Kenedy can move back up the pitch to left wing, where he looks much more comfortable, and Ritchie should return on the other flank, with Perez returning to his playmaker role as the Magpies look to put Southampton to the sword.

The centre forward slot has been a difficult one for Benitez but Dwight Gayle should remain after his brace against Bournemouth, showing a natural ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club have opened talks to snap up a Champions League midfielder.

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