Newcastle United left back Jetro Willems is in a race against time to be fit for Sunday’s clash with Manchester United, according to the Shields Gazette.
The newspaper claims that the 22-cap Dutch international missed last weekend’s 5-0 humiliation at Leicester City due to a minor knee problem.
Willems is likely thanking his lucky stars that he wasn’t involved at the King Power Stadium. However, there is a chance he could make the St James’ Park contest.
Meanwhile, Magpies head coach Steve Bruce is expected to be without five players against the Red Devils. Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie, Florian Lejeune and Dwight Gayle are all injured, while Isaac Hayden is suspended after his sending off last time out.
We saw against Leicester just how much Bruce’s side missed Willems, although the head coach’s baffling decision to switch to a flat back four might have had something to do with that, as well. Perhaps he chose to do that because Willems was out of the game, but he could have just put Paul Dummett at left wing back and had Federico Fernandez come in alongside Fabian Schar and Jamaal Lascelles at the heart of the defence. Instead, he tried the back four and it failed catastrophically. Certainly the Magpies missed the energy and attacking threat Willems brings to the left hand side. As per WhoScored.com, the Dutchman is averaging 0.8 shots, 0.5 key passes and 0.5 dribbles per game, while he obviously scored that magnificent goal against Liverpool last month. Those aren’t bad numbers for a defender, while his defensive stats are strong, as well. The 25-year-old is currently averaging 1.5 tackles per outing, which shows that he is ready and willing to get involved and win the ball back for his team. That quality was certainly missed against the Foxes, so hopefully he makes it back for the Red Devils clash.