Newcastle’s season kicks off in only six days time and it now beyond any doubt that we will be relying on Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson at centre-back against Southampton.
Jamaal Lascelles has no Premier League experience and has some way to go judged on pre season matches.
Whilst it would be some stretch of the imagination for there to be any chance of Fabricio Coloccini starting the game, considering he hasn’t played a minute of football this summer.
Which leaves us with Chancel Mbemba.
A young (hopefully!) defender from a weak foreign league who has only started training with his new teammates.
If you had any doubt at all, then Saturday’s match confirmed it would be Taylor and Williamson starting against the Saints.
Chancel Mbemba’s long awaited debut happened when he got the final half hour against Borussia Monchengladbach.
However, to everybody’s surprise it was right-back and not centre of defence where he appeared, replacing Daryl Janmaat.
So surely full-back must be one of Mbemba’s occasional roles…
“I have only ever played there once before, for Anderlecht, and never since but I am happy to play anywhere the coach and team need me to. I can’t tell you how I did though – it is up to the coaches and the fans to tell you that.”
It is obvious that Saturday was a serious game for Steve McClaren and he said so afterwards, not a case of just giving minutes to players for its own sake but as preparation for next Sunday.
Keeping Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson together for the full 90 minutes tells us it will be more of the same against Southampton.
Once Taylor became fit enough to play in the friendlies it has become apparent that he and Williamson were looking like sure starters, especially when only one player has played more minutes pre season than Williamson.
Discounting the Portland (plastic pitch and senior players not risked) and York City (second team played) matches, these have been the centre-back pairings (since Taylor returned):
Lascelles 45/Taylor 45 and Williamson 90
Taylor 69/Lascelles 21 and Williamson 90
Taylor 90 and Williamson 90
When fans were promised a whole new look Newcastle United by Mike Ashley, I don’t think many of us conjured up this mental image of what the defence will look like.
Steve McClaren has said he wants to have 11 Captains/Leaders on the pitch, a big problem that at centre-back we will have two players who have enough trouble concentrating on sorting out their own games.
The opening quarter of matches are against four teams who finished top eight in the space of 20 days, I can’t see any major changes happening quickly at centre-back so we just have to get behind them and keep everything crossed.