Newcastle United have started the season with two wins – unusual for a club that frequently has to battling through an early crisis.
Boss Steve Bruce has reckons he has a much improved squad available to him this season after a sensible summer of transfer business.
For the clash with Brighton on Sunday, Bruce will recall £20m new boy Callum Wilson, Jeff Hendrick and Jamal Lewis who starred in the win against West Ham, but were rested when a second string beat Blackburn in the Carabao Cup in midweek.
And star man Alain Saint-Maximin has recovered from a bang suffered coming on as a sub on Tuesday night and will start.
Bruce’s biggest dilemma to whether to stick with fit again Andy Carroll who started against the Hammers to “add physicality”.
Is that needed against Brighton? Bruce wants to reward Carroll, who has not scored in the Premier League for two years, for his fitness and losing 5k during lockdown. He became a dad again this week.
If Carroll is taken oit of the side it solves Bruce’s other selection headache: What to do with Miguel Almiron who looked sharp and creative against Rovers in midweek, but doesn’t fit the 4-4-2 Bruce reverted to last week.
Bruce wants to fit him in somehow, and says he can play in a front two with Wilson.
It has been a hectic and unique transfer window so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!
You’ll been clued up on Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and more as clubs buy their way through the summer. All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.
To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.
The same goes for Ryan Fraser. He buzzed around against Blackburn and got a debut goal, but is still searching for the fitness to last a full game and is also likely to come off the bench.
Reserve keeper Karl Darlow will stay in goal with Martin Dubravka injured for 2-3 months.
Bruce said: “We’re a lot stronger than we were. The four or five lads who have walked through the door have made the squad bigger and better.
“Can we keep improving? Certainly on the evidence of the last few weeks, I can say the squad has definitely improved.
“It’s still a bit too early for Paul Dummett, Matty Longstaff, Fabian Schar and the Martin Dubravka. Everybody else seems to be okay. We got a clean bill of health from everyone the other night.
“The players have hit the ground running, which was always part of the reason why we went after who we went after. We’ve got a chance to get off to an outstanding start.
There’s a feelgood factor which is good. You get that through results.
“They are both quality players so they will enjoy linking up with each other. I had to make the difficult decision of not playing Almiron at West Ham, but I think everybody knows what I think of him. He did well in the week and that gives me food for thought.”
Possible NUFC team: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lewis, Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint Maximin, Wilson, Almiron