Newcastle United are gearing up for one of the biggest nights in their history as they return to European competition with a trip to face AC Milan at San Siro on Tuesday.
The Toon Army were understandably excited to see where they would get the chance to travel after qualifying for the Champions League, but they may not have expected to be away at one of the world’s most famous and historic stadiums on the very first matchday of the group stage.
It could be a very closely contested game given both teams have talented players and a point to prove.
Here is the XI that Eddie Howe could choose to secure a Champions League victory for Newcastle on his European debut.
GK: Nick Pope – While it is not unheard of for the second-string goalkeeper to come in for Champions League games, that is more commonly done in tournaments with less prestige and easier opponents. Nick Pope is expected to remain in place, much to Martin Dubravka’s dismay.
RB: Kieran Trippier – He will be important on a night like this. Trippier’s time at Atletico Madrid will have taught him a lot about big performances away in the Champions League, something that can’t be said for everyone in the Newcastle squad.
CB: Fabian Schar – As a player who arrived at the club before the Saudi takeover, this must be a bit of a pinch-yourself moment for Schar. He has earned his place in the starting lineup against Milan.
CB: Sven Botman – There is something of a point to prove for Botman here as he so nearly joined Milan before heading to Newcastle.
LB: Dan Burn – Here’s a story. A defender who’s played for the likes of Blyth Spartans, Fulham, Yeovil Town, Wigan and Birmingham City is expected to line up at San Siro in the Champions League.
CM: Sean Longstaff – Much like Schar, Longstaff has been at the club longer than most and it’ll be a proud day for him to represent Newcastle on such a grand stage.
CM: Bruno Guimaraes – One of the players who was instrumental in qualifying for the Champions League, Guimaraes must now show why this is his level.
CM: Sandro Tonali – He won’t have expected this so soon. There was a lot of emotion involved for both Tonali and the fans when he left Milan in the summer and it will be very interesting to see what sort of reception he gets. It certainly wasn’t a move that he forced, but the minds of football fans do not always work that way.
RW: Anthony Gordon – Has done well to secure a starting spot in this Newcastle team and this will certainly be his biggest test so far.
ST: Alexander Isak – It may have been Callum Wilson who got the winner against Brentford but Isak is expected to start.
LW: Harvey Barnes – He was relegated from the Premier League just a few months ago but now Barnes is expected to start in the Champions League.