COMMENT By Harvey Byrne
Manager Rafa Benitez should axe struggling duo Ayoze Perez and Mohamed Diame from the Newcastle team to face Leeds on Friday evening.
The Magpies will be without star Dwight Gayle for the clash at St. James’ Park due to injury, meaning that a formation change may be best suited to accommodate forwards Daryl Murphy and Aleksandar Mitrovic in the team.
The two striker shave only returned eight goals in 36 league appearances between themselves this season, but they may link-up better together rather than the usual lone forward system that Benitez operates with.
This will also present the former Liverpool boss with the perfect opportunity to drop both Perez and Diame from the side after their abysmal displays in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday.
Midfielder Isaac Hayden must also make his return to the club’s starting eleven in the three changes for the north east giants’ team.
Newcastle are currently enduring a poor run of form at this late stage of the season with just two wins from their last six league matches.
However, a front two of Murphy and Mitrovic could cause severe problems to Leeds’ back line with the former’s aerial presence and the Serbian’s finishing ability which he showed in flashes in last season’s Premier League campaign.
Meanwhile, the midfield two of Jonjo Shelvey and Hayden can win the battle in the centre of the park and feed the ball to wide men Matt Ritchie and Yoan Gouffran to pump the ball into the box against a goalkeeper who is prone to a mistake in Rob Green.
The unchanged back line of Vurnon Anita, Jamaal Lascelles, Chancel Mbemba and Paul Dummett is also more than capable of keeping a shut out against the Yorkshire club with Karl Darlow looking to keep his 14th clean sheet of the campaign against an in form Chris Wood.
In other Newcastle news, Benitez has made this Premier League captain his summer priority.