Newcastle United face stern opposition in a more defensively-secure West Brom and look destined for failure amid their ongoing injury crisis.
That is according to ex-Premier League star Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after the club confirmed that star forwards Miguel Almiron (knee) and Allan Saint-Maximin (groin) would be out until at least April.
On top of that, Callum Wilson is not expected to recover from a hamstring injury for another three to four weeks, as per The Chronicle.
Newcastle have a three-point cushion on Fulham in 18th but that could disappear in the event of defeat against second-bottom West Brom on Sunday.
Whelan claims that a depleted Newcastle forward line will struggle to unlock a West Brom defence that has looked more secure of late.
He told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “If you’re gonna stay up, especially towards this back-end of the season with a difficult run-in, you’re gonna need your best players available.
“Saint-Maximin, Almiron and Wilson, that’s your front three there straight away out of the game.
“So it’s going to be a difficult one against West Brom because Sam Allardyce’s team now are a little bit harder to break down, a little more defensively astute and clued up. He’ll be putting his plan into action, and this is a massive game.
“I know for a fact that Steve Bruce will be desperate to get these guys back as soon as possible because they are match-winners.”
Newcastle have picked up just nine points from the last 45 available in the league.
Their cause is not helped by their inferior goal difference which is six goals worse off than relegation rivals Fulham’s.