Date: 8th February 2019 at 11:09am
Written by:

OPINION

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez, thanks to a mixture of new signings and players returning from injury, now has significant options for what feels like the first time this season.

Monday night’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers should be the start of a selection shake up in the first team, with Benitez sticking to his trusty 5-4-1 formation but with a few alterations.

The primary change should be January signing Antonio Barreca coming in for Matt Ritchie at left wing back. That would then enable the Scotland international to move further forward into his more natural role on the right wing.

The Italian arrived on loan from Monaco on deadline day and made his debut off the bench against Tottenham Hotspur last time out. Now, Ritchie has done a good job filling in at wing back, but he is best used in an attacking role and must be pushed further up the pitch against Wolves.

Barreca is the man to take his place at left wing back. The 23-year-old has the ability, both offensively and defensively, to make a real impact on the left hand side of the pitch for the Magpies.

It’s likely that he would offer more than Paul Dummett going forward, while being his equal defensively. Going up against Matt Doherty would be a baptism of fire on Monday, but that’s what he was brought in for after all.

The travelling Newcastle fans would love to see their new recruit at Molineux, especially if it allows Ritchie to replace one of Christian Atsu or Ayoze Perez further up the pitch.

With record signing Miguel Almiron also in line for an appearance on Monday there is palpable excitement about a game which might otherwise have been treated with trepidation.

It’s time for Barreca to show why he was brought to Tyneside. He’s a talented player who is a more natural fit than Ritchie at left wing back – he needs to start on Monday.