When the team was announced against Vitesse Arnhem, it was a surprise to see the name of Chancel Mbemba missing.
Though even more of a shock to see his name missing from the list of substitutes as well.
It was subsequently reported that the central defender’s absence is due to picking up an ankle injury, though leaving Chancel Mbemba out has been described simply as a ‘precaution’.
Whilst Jamaal Lascelles picked up plaudits late on in the season for a handful of good performances and rousing the troops off the pitch, it was Chancel Mbemba who was easily Newcastle’s best defender despite having to play alongside the likes of Coloccini and Taylor.
Considering he was only 20 years of age when he arrived and his first taste of the Premier League, I made him the best signing of last summer ahead of Wijnaldum.
The fact that it is an ankle problem isn’t what you want to hear, as in February Chancel Mbemba injured his ankle at Everton and then missed nine weeks of football.
Good to see Grant Hanley getting his first start in the absence of Chancel Mbemba but you do have to wonder if he has maybe been promoted to start earlier than he would have, due to the injury.
The only bit of pre-season football for Hanley was as a late sub on Tuesday night at Southend.
Newcastle starting 11 v Vitesse Arnhem:
Sels, Janmaat, Hanley, Lascelles (c), Dummett, Hayden, Anita, Colback, Ritchie, Perez, Gayle
Darlow, Sterry, Gamez, Saivet, Tiote, Shelvey, Gouffran, Thauvin, Armstrong, Mitrovic, Aarons