With the JPT Final just two days away, it's time to have a look at the likely line-up for Sunday.
News from the treatment room
The biggest boost to the side came with the news that Adam Lallana will be fit to play. He missed Tuesday's game against Hartlepool and is under doctor's orders to take it easy for the rest of the season but will play. Morgan Schneiderlin will also make it after coming off midway through Tuesday's game with a tight hamstring. Longer terms absentees Graeme Murty and Lee Holmes will not be back in time, while there is little chance of Antonio, Lloyd James or Jon Otsemobor making it. The biggest question marks hang over David Connolly and Wayne Thomas. The striker came on for twenty minutes on Tuesday but may not be risked from the start. Equally important will be whether Wayne Thomas can come on at right back after being injured on Friday. There was talk of him making a surprise recovery for Sunday but this has to be unlikely with a recent calf injury. All in all this leave Pardew without a natural right back and with a massive selection headache
R&W Bill's Wembley line-up:
(right to left)
Perry Jaidi Fonte Harding
Waigo Hammond Schneiderlin Lallana
Perry at right back seems the obvious choice, although it may also be a job Paul Wotton could do. It seems quite a big risk to start with Waigo and Connolly as Papa can drift out of games while Connolly will certainly not last the whole ninety, but it just shows the lack of attacking options Pardew is faced with due to Antonio's injury and Barnard being cup-tied. It all heaps the (already not inconsiderable) pressure on Rickie Lambert ahead of Sunday. Placing Wotton in midfield or even recalling Simon Gillett to the side could be alternatives, but that would require significant adjustments as neither are natural widemen.
Having said all that, after a long season of 50+ games already, Pardew should be thankful to have the spine of the side intact for Sunday. Saints have not lost many games this season when Davies, Fonte, Jaidi, Hammond, Schneiderlin, Lallana and Lambert have all played. It is a formula Pardew will be hoping holds true for Sunday.
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