Expected Newcastle XI v Southampton

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Newcastle United go into Saturday’s game at Southampton still looking to record their first Premier League victory of the season, but their poor form won’t be enough to force Rafael Benitez into making any alterations to his team.

The Spaniard will likely field an unchanged line up from the side that fell to a 1-0 defeat against Brighton last time out, despite the return to fitness of attacker Salomon Rondon.

The Chronicle reported recently that the Venezuelan, on a reported £60,000-per-week at the club [Source: Spotrac], was handed a boost when he returned to in training following a thigh injury.

However, the pragmatic Benitez will surely opt to bring the burly frontman off the bench, with the former Liverpool chief likely to continue with his bizarre selection of the out of form Ayoze Perez.

Martin Dubravka is almost certainly set to start in goal. The Slovakian international hasn’t been the problem for the Magpies this season, indeed he has done his best to keep the score down in games where Benitez’s side should have been blown away.

The back four is pretty automatic too at this stage. Although the Chronicle’s Rondon report also stated that defender Ciaran Clark was back in training after injury, this game will likely come too soon for the Irishman to earn a start.

DeAndre Yedlin and Paul Dummett are firmly entrenched as the full backs and will surely continue against the Saints. Federico Fernandez and Jamaal Lascelles, despite the team’s struggles, have been solid at the back and will likely start on Saturday.

Benitez’s perverse preference for Mohamed Diame in the middle of the park will probably see him start alongside Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield, while Matt Ritchie and Kenedy are clearly the manager’s favoured wide men and will likely continue against Mark Hughes’s side.

Up front, Benitez will surely take a cautious approach with Rondon. The Spaniard’s love for Diame is matched only by his passion for Perez, so expect to see the 25-year-old up top at St Mary’s Stadium. Yoshinori Muto will likely partner him once again.

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