Why Newcastle United need to start a natural striker against Aston Villa
Photo credit:(Getty Images/Michael Steele)

Newcastle United lacked quality in their last match - a goalless draw against 19th place West Bromwich Albion.

With top scorer Callum Wilson out injured until at least the international break at the end of March, head coach Steve Bruce has had to weigh up his options in the attacking areas of the pitch.

Add to that the absences of Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin, Bruce has certainly been given a severe selection headache.

But is the solution to The Magpies’ attacking nightmare staring the boss right in the face?

Against The Baggies

Last Sunday’s match at The Hawthorns saw Bruce opt for a front two of Joelinton and Ryan Fraser.

The formation remained the same as the one introduced by new coach Graeme Jones since his arrival from Bournemouth in January, with a midfield diamond remaining in place. This being despite all of the injuries in the squad.

Joelinton simply has not done the job since signing for a club record fee in the summer of 2019, with his mere three Premier League goals to his name leaving a lot of question marks hanging over the deal.

Fraser, the Brazilian’s strike partner in the West Midlands last week, is not a striker.

This new formation introduced by Jones does not really accommodate wingers like Fraser due to the system being a lot narrower, however that is not to say that the Scottish international can not thrive in the side.

He should not be played up front however as his creativity from midfield could hold to the key to a resurgence at Newcastle this season.

What needs to happen against Villa?

Newcastle may be without a number of key players, but the options remain there for the Toon gaffer.

Assuming Joelinton keeps his place, Bruce has two realistic options in attack to play alongside the former Hoffenheim man.

If he opts for pace, Dwight Gayle is his man for the job. Despite not being prolific in the top-flight, he knows where the back of the net is and having spent a season on loan at Villa’s local rivals West Brom in their Championship days, he will no doubt want a result against Dean Smith’s side on Friday.

The alternative option for Bruce would be to take a direct approach, meaning that Andy Carroll could come into the side.

Carroll bagged a hat-trick in a 6-0 win against Villa in 2010, and he would perhaps relish playing against the likes of Tyrone Mings in the visitor’s defence as he loves a physical battle.

Whatever approach Bruce takes on Friday evening, goals are a must as United look to keep clear of the relegation zone.