During this international break, interesting to look back at the 12 incoming transfers Rafa Benitez made.
The Newcastle was clearly not afraid of the impact of key players having commitments for country as well as club.
Of the dozen players who arrived at St James Park this summer, 10 of them have been out on international duty since signing for NUFC.
The only exceptions are Dwight Gayle and Jesus Gamez, the latter never having played for the Spanish senior side and hardly likely to be doing so now as he’s in the twilight of his career.
What I find interesting is that either by luck or by good judgement, the two players who Rafa arguably can’t replace in the Newcastle team, aren’t playing international football at the moment and are unlikely to do so for at least the rest of this season.
Some may put up Matt Ritchie as irreplaceable and clearly he has been one of Newcastle’s best players so far – but when rested at Rotherham, Christian Atsu came in for the Scottish international and gave a man of the match, game winning performance.
The two players I believe who are most crucial to our fortunes are Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle.
United’s playmaker and goalscorer.
How good is it for Rafa Benitez knowing that when Brentford comes around on Saturday, both Gayle and Shelvey will be refreshed and ready to go again in these key positions.
Yes we could play Hayden and Colback together in the middle of the pitch but it would hardly be inspiring.
Likewise, maybe some would think Mitrovic could fill in, but the way Rafa wants to play with a quick striker high up the pitch ready to take advantage of anything that falls, we have nobody remotely capable of playing that lone forward role in place of the England pair.
Interesting to see if either Shelvey or Gayle can use a (hopefully) promotion season to force a way into the England set-up? Good luck to them but I’m quite happy for them to have a season of only worrying about Newcastle United’s progress for the time being.