Friday night’s fixture between Leeds United and Newcastle United has taken on a more important feel than either side would have hoped for at this early stage of the season.
Both are seeking their first win of the season, whilst the Magpies find themselves in the bottom three, with only one point after four games. Steve Bruce will feel that game was two points dropped, rather than a point gained after his side threw away the lead in injury time against Southampton.
Meanwhile, Leeds have suffered heavy defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool and ended a pulsating encounter with Everton with the points shared. That draw looks a little more impressive after Everton’s strong start has seen them pick up seven points. The draw at Burnley was a little more disappointing but Leeds will likely feel in better shape than Newcastle, despite the fact that they’ll be desperate to pick up the win in order to jump-start their season.
Marcelo Bielsa‘s side of course have injuries and suspensions coming into the game, particularly struggling at centre back. Robin Koch is likely still out, Diego Llorente suffering an injury on Sunday and Pascal Struijk suspended, pending the outcome of the club’s appeal.
However, Newcastle have selections issues themselves, which LeedsLive have rounded up:
Newcastle’s centre-forward is highly unlikely to feature on Friday night. Bruce spoke after the loss at Old Trafford on Saturday saying: “We aren’t putting a time scale on it [Wilson’s return]. He could be touch and go for next week and the week after it.”
Presuming he doesn’t make a surprise comeback, Leeds will be relieved not to face Wilson, as – along with Allan Saint-Maximin – he is the North East side’s most dangerous attacking threat.
Again, there is no confirmation that the Scottish winger is unavailable at this stage but he was recently pictured in a protective boot, making it seem unlikely that he would be ready for Friday evening.
Shelvey has missed all of the season thus far with a calf injury, but is expected to return soon. Friday’s game might come too soon for him but with Newcastle needing a result, Bruce may choose to rush him back if he’s in any way ready to be involved.
The Newcastle goalkeeper had surgery in the summer and has yet to recover, following an infection. He is not expected back until at least October.