After back to back draws against Stoke City and Burnley, Southampton are back in action this weekend, as they travel to St James’ Park to take on a Newcastle United side, who are in a similar position in the points table. The Saints are 17th in the table just a point less than the Magpies, who are 16th and a win in this game will push either club far away from the drop zone.
Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle side fell to a 2-0 loss at Anfield in the previous round and will look to bounce back, playing at home, but the Saints have proven hard to beat recently and are surely putting in a shift. Here is the predicted lineup Mauricio Pellegrino might field for this tie:
In early team news, Charlie Austin and Maya Yoshida are the only injury concerns ahead of this game for Pellegrino. He might also miss Steven Davis, who is just coming back from a hamstring strain.
Expected lineup (4-2-3-1):
Pellegrino has used Alex McCarthy over Fraser Forster since the turn of the year and the 28-year old should start under the bar against Newcastle United. With Yoshida absent, the manager has little option but to stick with a CB partnership of Jack Stephens and Wesley Hoedt, both of who have had some decent games recently.
Southampton have two of the best full-backs in the league and Pellegrino is expected to stick with them for this game. Cedric Soares should start at right-back while Ryan Bertrand will keep his place as a left-back.
The Saints also have two of the most exciting midfielders in the league at their disposal. While Oriol Romeu will keep his place in the side as the deepest of the midfielders, Mario Lemina will add some creativity and balance to the midfield for Southampton.
With Steven Davis out injured, Dusan Tadic should keep his place in the no.10 role for this weekend. Guido Carrillo, who is now the first choice striker for Southampton, has not done enough but should retain his place in the side for this tie.
James Ward-Prowse has been a regular for Pellegrino recently but was an unused sub in the last game. He should be back in action, starting on the right flank while Nathan Redmond, who is only getting his chances in the first team, should start on the left side of the attack.
Here is how they might line up: