Newcastle United were rocked by the news that Callum Wilson would be out for eight weeks due to a hamstring injury, as reported by Sky Sports.
Steve Bruce now has to try and deal with the loss of his leading scorer just as his side were picking up some momentum.
Here are three ways Newcastle can try and overcome Wilson’s absence.
A relatively new trend in modern football is to survive without a striker. Deploying an attacking midfielder or wide player as an auxiliary front man to replace the traditional No 9.
There aren’t many managers more old-school than Bruce so this concept might be slightly alien to him.
But he does have the necessary tools at his disposal if he goes down this avenue.
Miguel Almiron’s attacking emergence has been crucial to Newcastle, particularly in the 3-2 win over Southampton where he scored twice.
The Paraguayan playmaker does have the speed to run in behind, but also the creativity to drop into that pocket of space between midfield and defence. Almiron is almost the archetypal false nine and could be instrumental if used correctly.
Wilson’s 10 Premier League strikes is head and shoulders above any of his teammates. Therefore, Bruce may want to double up his strike force in order to boost the probability of scoring.
This is easier said than done when you consider the personnel in the Magpies squad.
Between Andy Carroll, Joelinton and Dwight Gayle, Newcastle’s backup forwards have scored a combined total of five league goals. 50% of what Wilson has managed on his own.
If Bruce put Carroll and Joelinton together, the football would probably resemble the kind Newcastle fans want to steer clear from; direct and in the air.
However, partner one of the two with Gayle and you create a different ultimatum. A little and large combo that has a decent track record over the years.
It means Newcastle can resort to long balls if needed, with the added alternative of a runner to break the lines.
This option could be very fun indeed. Allan Saint-Maximin’s return from his own injury gives Bruce an extra spark to their sometimes-lifeless approach.
Traditionally placed on the wings, the flying Frenchman could certainly do a job down the middle.
Speed, skill and entertainment. Everything Newcastle fans want to see from their team. Throw him up top and release the shackles.
Saint-Maximin wears the No 10 jersey, so why not play him as one? The 23-year-old occasionally featured as a centre-forward for Nice, so the role wouldn’t be completely unfamiliar.
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