A truly manic transfer window and whirlwind start to the season for Rafa Benitez.
The international break an annoying irritant for Newcastle fans, especially on the back of a four match winning run, though no doubt much needed by the manager as he contemplates how he wants to move forward in the coming games with his much changed squad.
With so much having happened at St James Park, it is maybe easy to forget just how many more serious options are now available to Rafa Benitez, as compared to when he sat down to pick the starting eleven and subs against Brighton.
Just to refresh your memories, this is how Newcastle’s matchday 18 man squad looked against the Seagulls 12 days ago:
Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran, Ritchie, Diame, Perez
Darlow, Yedlin, Gamez, Clark, Armstrong, Hanley, Colback
Also competing for the first eleven now are:
Daryl Murphy – Signed the day after the Brighton match and has since being on international duty, scoring for Ireland against Serbia.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – Not so happy memories for the Serbian striker from that game against Ireland but after playing an hour of that game he has shown that he is available now for the trip to Derby, having missed Brighton with concussion.
Achraf Lazaar – The left-back (can also play left wing) signed for Newcastle on 28 August, the same day as Daryl Murphy. Having been away on international duty with Morocco, Saturday will be his first potential opportunity to play for NUFC.
Dwight Gayle – Like Aleksandar Mitrovic, Newcastle’s four goal striker was ruled out of the Brighton match after suffering concussion against Cheltenham. Looks a certainty to slot back into the starting 11 against Derby County.
Christian Atsu – Newcastle United’s deadline day capture on loan from Chelsea, has been on international duty with Ghana but now Newcastle fans are looking forward to see what he can do.
DeAndre Yedlin – He was of course on the bench for that last match and even got two minutes as a late sub against Brighton. However, only signing in the midweek before that 2-0 win he was never going to be thrown straight in for first team action – but Saturday could well be a different matter.
An added complication of course is that five of the six listed above have all been out on international duty, making it maybe a little too much of a step for Rafa to make too many changes.
However, one thing is for sure, it looks as though Newcastle United will have a seriously strengthened bench of options on Saturday when facing Derby County.
***If you wanted to, you could also add a seventh extra option for Rafa, with Cheick Tiote’s move (to wherever) falling down in the final days of the transfer window, so he is now an option once again, however unlikely that may be in terms of the other players the Newcastle boss now has at his disposal.