The good news is that there are a number of Newcastle players capable of instantly stepping up to the Premier League if/when United complete the job in May.
A combination of some canny buys in the summer and Rafa working his magic on what he inherited, means that Newcastle United would have a decent part of the team/squad already in place for August 2017, if we find ourselves back in that top tier.
Even better, the spine of the team looks particularly strong with individuals who could manage the higher level.
Maybe no surprise that the 4 Newcastle players I have in mind, all have Premier League experience already in the bank, to greater or lesser degrees.
Karl Darlow with nine Premier League appearances, Ciaran Clark 134, Jonjo Shelvey 141 and 64 for Dwight Gayle.
I thought Karl Darlow was really unlucky and to be honest, not very well treated by Rafa Benitez. Clearly United needed another keeper in the summer with Elliot and Krul injured, with Matz Sels seemingly only signing on the understanding he would be guaranteed an early run in the first team.
With the other three Newcastle players I have selected, there is a ‘but’.
I think all three can do a decent job in the top division BUT will need an injection of quality next to them.
Lascelles is a more than capable partner for Ciaran Clark this season but I think at the top level the former Forest player’s lack of pace is a big handicap and he won’t get away with some of the mistakes he is liable to make at Championship level.
Jonjo Shelvey is obviously Premier League class but is damaged goods. He would need a very good player alongside him in the top tier to look after him and cover for the weaknesses in his game. Isaac Hayden looks a good player but surely in the Premier League couldn’t be more than a squad player in the short to medium term.
Dwight Gayle has an excellent scoring record in whatever division he has played in, even the Premier League. He might have featured in 64 PL matches but he only started 27 for Crystal Palace and still scored 12 goals.
Even if Mohamed Diame recaptured last season’s Hull form (scored 10 goals and a decent number of assists) in the remainder of this one, very difficult to see him at the age of 30 being good enough to assist Gayle in the top league.
As for Mitrovic and Perez, hard to see either overcoming their lack of pace in particular to be effective Premier League performers good enough to help Dwight Gayle adapt to being a first choice striker in the top tier.
Having another quick and skilful player either behind or alongside him, I think Gayle has every chance of making it at the top, but that other player will have to be brought in from outside – although Adam Armstrong will hopefully in time show that he can do it for his hometown club.
Rafa Benitez is putting some great foundations in place at St James Park but I think we will see an ever evolving process for at least the next two or three years.