Steve Bruce may have to call on Jacob Murphy to feature at right-back when Newcastle United visit relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion after an injury to Emil Krafth.
The Toon boss revealed on Friday that Krafth will have to undergo late assessments on a “nasty” shin injury ahead of Sunday’s trip to The Hawthorns, having been forced off with the issue during last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Krafth underwent scans at the start of the week to assess the severity of his injury alongside Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin, who have been ruled out until April with knee and groin problems respectively, and is now a potential doubt to face Sam Allardyce’s Baggies.
Can Murphy replace Krafth vs WBA?
Yes, he should be fine
No, he isn’t good enough
The Wolves match marked Krafth’s seventh start of the Premier League season and third in a row, having enjoyed his longest run in the side all term after falling out of favour following back-to-back appearances in October.
Outings against Burnley and Manchester United earlier in the campaign had proven to be the Sweden international’s only successive top-flight appearances until Newcastle visited Old Trafford following a 2-0 loss at Chelsea last month.
However, Krafth’s run in the side could come to an end this weekend, with Bruce unsure on his availability while speaking to the media on Friday.
“Krafth has got a nasty shin injury so we’ll see how they are today and tomorrow,” the Toon boss said.
Being without Krafth on Sunday could leave Bruce without a recognised right-back as he continues to await the return of Javier Manquillo, with the Spaniard only recently taking up light training sessions following his ankle injury sustained against Southampton in February.
Should Krafth be ruled unavailable for Sunday’s trip to West Brom, Murphy may emerge as Newcastle’s stand-in option after being called on in the role by Bruce previously this season.
Murphy has been given four of his eight Premier League starts during the 2020/21 campaign in a full-back role, while making the remaining seven of his appearances from the bench.
His performance at right-back against Wolves in October returned the 26-year-old’s best WhoScored match rating of the season so far at 7.74, while penning his second and third best grades against Leeds United (7.08) and Everton (7.01) in the role as well.
Those performances return an average 7.27 rating, compared to his overall seasonal score of 6.52.
The £25,000-per-week outcast, who has only played 40 minutes of an available 540 in the top-flight since 30 January, also averages a higher number of passes blocked (1.3) and successful dribbles (1.6) per league game compared to Krafth (0.2 and 0.2 respectively) and Manquillo (0.4 and 0 respectively), per WhoScored.
He may not have featured in the role recently, but should carry enough stock to warrant consideration for a long-awaited recall if Krafth is not passed fit in time.