12 mins: Half a chance for Leeds, as a cross from the right finds Harrison running in unmarked from the left, and he swings back his left leg before completely shanking his volley in entirely the wrong direction.
10 mins: Llorente has had to leave the field, and Pascal Struijk has come on.
9 mins: Another goal in the other game, Soucek equalising for West Ham. And another injured centre-back in this one, Llorente down and clutching a knee.
8 mins: Banford’s cross deflects behind to give Leeds the night’s first corner, which the fully recovered Schar heads away.
6 mins: Shelvey has the night’s first shot: it’s low and hard and skids wide not just of the goal but of the six-yard box.
4 mins: There’s already been a goal in the other 6pm GMT Premier League kick-off, Wilf Zaha putting Crystal Palace ahead against West Ham in the third minute.
2 mins: The teams trade near-halfway free-kicks. Newcastle win the second, and having gone down Fabian Schar is clutching his left shoulder and looking unhappy.
Out come the players! It is three minutes to football o’clock.
Steve Bruce has a quick chat. “They’ve been quite remarkable,” he says of Leeds. “They’ve been everybody’s team that you want to watch. We’re going to have to defend well but they leave a few holes at the back and let’s hope we can exploit them.”
I’m really not sure about Jonjo Shelvey’s pre-match warm-up outfit.
The average Newcastle home game this season ends 1.11-1.67; the average Leeds away game ends 1.89-2.22. So we should have some goals, but we might have to wait for them: Newcastle have not scored in 15 of their 19 first halves (and just the one in the others), or conceded in 10 of them, but only 5% of their games have finished goalless.
Newcastle bring in Fraser and Murphy for Manquillo and Carroll. Leeds make three changes, bringing in Meslier, Llorente and Phillips and leaving out Casilla, Klich and Struijk.
The team sheets have been handed in, and the names upon them were these:
Newcastle: Darlow, Murphy, Hayden, Lascelles, Schar, Lewis, Almiron, Shelvey, Hendrick, Fraser, Wilson. Subs: Dubravka, Matthew Longstaff, Carroll, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin, Ritchie, Gayle, Krafth, Manquillo.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Llorente, Alioski, Phillips, Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford. Subs: Poveda-Ocampo, Roberts, Casilla, Helder Costa, Hernandez, Struijk, Davis, Klich, Shackleton.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
In their last eight matches Newcastle have amassed two draws, six defeats and (as mathematicians among you will already have worked out) not a single victory. It is half as good as the next worst Premier League record over the same timeframe, and 10% of the best (jointly held by the two Manchester clubs). In their last six matches there have been five defeats, one draw and, well, you work it out. It’s a deeply rubbish run that has seen Newcastle sink to 16th in the table, albeit still seven points clear of Fulham in the last relegation spot, and stormclouds gather over Steve Bruce. Fans have gathered outside St James’ Park to protest at his handling of the team, and the manager has refused to talk to the written press because he thinks some of them are being a bit mean. “The one thing I’ll never do is shy away from a challenge,” he said ahead of this game. Unless it’s journalists doing the challenging, in which case he will shy away from it in the most shameless fashion. “All you can do is prepare as best you can and try to ignore the noise. We need to go and get a result. I’ve seen little bits of promise but confidence is a little bit low,” he added.
As for Leeds, they have lost their last three games in all competitions, including a humbling at Crawley in the FA Cup and a 0-1 dismantling at the hands of Brighton at Elland Road last time out. “We’re not focused on the opponent’s bad run of form, we’re focused on our own game and trying to improve our own form,” says Marcelo Bielsa.
Anyway, hello! Here’s PA Media’s team news latest:
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce will be without three central defenders for Tuesday night’s crucial Premier League clash with Leeds. Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett (both illness) and Ciaran Clark (calf) are expected to miss out, while Javier Manquillo, who made his first appearance since November at Aston Villa on Saturday evening, is a doubt after limping off at Villa Park, where fellow full-back DeAndre Yedlin was unable to play because of an issue with his visa.
Striker Allan Saint-Maximin returned as a substitute in that game, but is unlikely to make the starting line-up after eight weeks out recovering from coronavirus.
Leeds will be boosted by the return of Kalvin Phillips and Illan Meslier. Midfielder Phillips sat out the recent home defeat to Brighton because of a one-game ban, while goalkeeper Meslier has missed two matches through illness. Marcelo Bielsa has no new injury concerns, but is still without defender Robin Koch (knee) and long-term absentees Gaetano Berardi (knee) and Adam Forshaw (hip).