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A complete sell-out crowd of more than 52,000 will watch this showdown on Friday night, with Newcastle needing to get back on track following a disappointing showing in their game at Sheffield Wednesday.
With news still awaited on the fitness of DeAndre Yedlin, Ciaran Clark, Jack Colback, and Isaac Hayden, we’ll have to assume that they can’t play. As a real one-off and given the prowess of Bartley and Jansson at the back for Leeds, it would be wonderful to see Atsu play on the left with Mitrovic and Murphy up front in a 4-4-2. However, Benitez might go for a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The man from Northampton has been in great form this season and is a Premier League goalkeeper in waiting. He is sure to start this important game.
The Dutchman may continue at right-back should Yedlin be again unfit to play. He will be itching to prove a point to Benitez and displace Yedlin for a long period.
Since the injury to Ciaran Clark, there has been a comeback for Mbemba at centre-back and he is clearly enjoying it. Will start the game.
The skipper will be one of those players who would be desperate to make amends for last week. A big show is needed up against Chris Wood.
Although he is not producing as much as he would like to while going forward, Dummett is defensively sound and is exactly what’s required on nights like this one.
Magical Matt should be doing his thing once again from the right. It’s easy to see Charlie Taylor struggling to cope with Ritchie’s runs inside onto his left foot.
The best player in the Championship, Leeds, like so many others, are in a no-win situation with him. Concentrate on hitting him too much and you leave some of the best players in the league free to run riot. Leave him alone and he will pass Leeds to death.
With the losses of both Colback and Hayden, Diame has had to fill in here and it’s far from his natural position. He will look to give his best nevertheless.
Gouffran is a hard worker and that may be a fine quality to have on a night like this. Atsu might come on from the bench and play down the left to provide crosses for Mitrovic.
With Diame otherwise engaged, Ayoze can play behind the main striker again and has the quality to find a finish. He will be crucial in unlocking the strong Leeds defence.
Despite Daryl Murphy’s recent successes, this could be the ideal game for Mitro. The crowd will be right behind him and he will relish the fight against Bartley and Jansson. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him score on Friday before celebrating like a possessed lottery winner.