What to do with the defensive crisis at Newcastle United?
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Fabian Schar of Newcastle United goes off injured on a stretcher during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St. James Park on February 06, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Owen Humphreys - Pool/Getty Images)

Last weeks 2-1 victory over Southampton came with its sacrifices. Top goal scorer Callum Wilson was confirmed to be out for up to 6 weeks with a hamstring tear, the options in Wilsons absence are plentiful and worrying. It was in the defensive areas where Newcastle became even more vulnerable. Both Javier Manquillo and Fabian Schär both came off with long term injuries. Schär was confirmed to have sustained cruciate knee ligament damage, so, it is likely, his season is over. Manquillio sustained damage to his ankle ligaments and could face two months on the sidelines. 

Two add two equals trouble. 

Adding Manquillo and Schär to Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez's names means Newcastle have one natural centre back fit. Ciaran Clark now the Irishman has been on form when he has featured in a black and white shirt this season, but with the fixture congestion and big opponents coming up for the Magpies, cover isn't really on offer. If one more goes down, then it will be makeshift and patchwork in the most important area of the pitch. 

What will the backline look like?

If head coach Steve Bruce decides to keep the forward paced style of Newcastle United we have come to know and love over the past month. Then it'll most likely feature Issac Hayden who has played almost every position this season. Hayden has become a talisman featuring in the top twenty in terms of tackles attempted and blocked shots in the  Premier League. The second player is up for discussion as Ciaran Clark is fit following his child's birth and Paul Dummet is finally fit for an option. It will most likely be Clark and Hayden as Bruce has preferred Hayden in the backline for the past five games.  

Other options

If another injury hits the deep treatment room in the North-East then other options will have to arise from somewhere. 

Florian Lejune is on loan at Spanish club Deportivo Alavés. There is no recall clause in Lejune's contract so if the injury list grows he is unable to come back. 

Elsewhere in the first team, you have very little options. No midfielder currently in the Newcastle squad has the ability to drop back and play centre-back. 

In terms of youngsters coming through and into the first team. Newcastle U23's are not only bottom of their league but have not kept a clean sheet all season. So in terms of stellar defensive performances are not something that stands out. If it was utter desperation and last chance saloon it would be Owen Bailey who Bruce should call upon. Bailey has been captain of the U23's for two seasons now. 

At the moment the bleeding has stopped for Newcastle and three options are available right now. But on Monday night against Chelsea if another injury should arise it will be back to the drawing board for Steve Bruce. 

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