Should Newcastle United keep three centre-backs against Burnley?
Photo credit:(Getty Images/Stu Forster)

Newcastle United head to Turf Moor for the early kick-off on Sunday, looking to move six points clear of the Premier League's relegation zone.

This opportunity was presented to them after Fulham succumbed to a 90th minute strike from Wolverhampton Wanderers' Adama Traore on Friday night which left them three points adrift of the Magpies.

Sunday's opponents Burnley are still not out of relegation trouble themselves, however they have pulled themselves clear of the bottom three in recent weeks and Sean Dyche's men will provide Steve Bruce's side with a stern test in Lancashire.

After the 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the Brighton & Hove Albion before the most recent international break, a much-improved showing was put in last weekend's 2-2 draw with a Tottenham Hotspur side who are chasing a spot in Europe next season.

One notable difference, even before kick-off at St James' Park last week, was the return of three centre-backs, changing the system from the back four that were far too open at the Amex Stadium.

This change may have been viewed as a negative one from some fans, however Newcastle were still prepared to attack Spurs last time out and this system could suit them at Burnley on Sunday.

Why stick with three at the back?

Every team in the Premier League knows what to expect from Sean Dyche's Burnley outfit.

Dyche is traditional and sets up side up with a simple 4-4-2 formation, however there is much more to their style of play than this.

Without injuries, the Clarets would typically play the striking duo of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, or an alternative option would be Jay Rodriguez. What remains the same regardless of who plays, Burnley always give their opponents a physical battle.

Barnes is ruled out of the upcoming meeting with the Magpies, and in recent matches Dyche has actually favoured using the pacy option of Matej Vydra.

Whatever the Burnley boss goes with against Newcastle, there are plenty of benefits to Steve Bruce keeping a back three.

Whether Burnley go direct, or aim to get Vydra in behind, an extra defensive body could prove crucial in the battle that faces them at Turf Moor. 

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How this helps the rest of the team

Newcastle have received the welcome news this week that top scorer Callum Wilson is back and available for selection.

Add to that the potential that exciting French attacker, Allan Saint-Maximin, is also back available, there are more forward options starting to come to light for Steve Bruce.

It is evident that Newcastle have significantly more pace among their ranks than Sunday's opponents and this could cause problems from Burnley's back-line and that all starts from the back for United.

Jamaal Lascelles will miss out which only really leaves Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez available as the out-and-out centre-halves that are fit, with Fabian Schär not quite ready for a return to action just yet.

It is expected that Paul Dummett will keep his place in the defence, and as much as all three available may not be the best defenders you'll ever see in the Premier League, they are all experienced and they will know exactly what to expect from Burnley and may even thrive off the physical battle.

Bruce included Emil Krafth as part of his back there in the draw with Spurs, so he is another option in that position as well.

If the defence can perform well, they can provide the platform needed for the rest of the team to be creative on the front foot, a trick which worked well in the reverse fixture where Newcastle won 3-1 at St James' Park in what was arguably their best showing of the 2020/21 season back in October.

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