By Russell Edge

31st Dec, 2017 | 2:35pm

Newcastle expected XI v Stoke: Attackers axed after Saturday shocker

COMMENT

Newcastle United fans can expect manager Rafael Benitez to axe some of the club’s stars from the starting XI for what is a crunch clash against Stoke City on New Year’s Day.

The Magpies go into the match off the back of a bitterly disappointing 0-0 draw with Brighton on Saturday, which saw a showdown lacking in any real attacking threat from either side.

Benitez saw his side bereft of any creative nous against the Seagulls, with the likes of Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle shocking in their contribution to threatening scoring even just a single goal.

With victories a must, having picked up maximum points in just one of their last 12 matches, in order for the Magpies to escape the relegation battle, Benitez knows his men have to start scoring goals, and that is likely to be reflected in his team selection on Monday.

Ritchie, Gayle, Paul Dummett and Isaac Hayden can all expect to be axed from the side, with Jacob Murphy, Ayoze Perez, Javier Manquillo and Jonjo Shelvey the likely replacements in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

At the back Karl Darlow is likely to keep his place in the starting XI, having replaced the injured Rob Elliot against the Seagulls and keeping a clean sheet.

Manquillo can be expected to step in for Dummett, who, having recently returned from injury and having played two games in close succession, will be ready for a rest.

In midfield the Magpies were lacking the creative prowess of Shelvey against Brighton, and with Stoke struggling in recent games, he should be expected to replace the defence-focused Hayden in order to take full advantage of a possible three points.

Meanwhile Ritchie was ineffective on Saturday and Benitez could use this game as a chance to rest the Scotland international, while Benitez may well drop Gayle to utilise Perez in a attacking midfield role as he reverts back to his favoured formation.

In other Newcastle United news, the club are readying a bidding war for a £10million-rated international maestro.

We’ve launched a << BREAKING NEWS FEED>> exclusively for your club. ‘Like Us’ on Facebook by clicking here if you want 24/7 updates on all Newcastle United breaking news.