Moreover, the gruelling Thursday/Sunday schedule that the Europa League provides will more often than not have to be faced by the Magpies and the African Cup of Nations is once again, rather tediously, taking place. With all of this in mind, there is added importance placed on the significant number of young players in Newcastle’s squad at the moment.
James Tavernier: Just 20 years old and with Danny Simpson’s on-going unsuccessful contract negotiations and the club yet to sign Mathieu Debuchy, the right back slot is one that Tavernier could go on to stake as his own. He has certainly looked impressive any time he has featured for Newcastle in Pre-Season and with all the added games this year it is likely to be a big breakthrough season for Tavernier.
Sammy Ameobi: Also just 20, Shola’s younger brother has gone on to make 11 Premiership appearances over the last two seasons for United. Still somewhat raw, Ameobi needs to work on his body strength and consistency. Will definitely once again get game time this year, however it is hard to see him breaking through and becoming a permanent feature in the first team this season.
Mehdi Abeid: Just 19, Abeid signed for United last summer and made 2 First Team appearances last year in both domestic cup competitions, impressing each time he played. A central midfielder, Abeid will find it hard to stake a place in Newcastle’s starting 11 at any point this season and may well be better served spending another year progressing his game with the development squad.
Shane Ferguson: At 20, Ferguson has already made 18 first team appearances for Newcastle over the last two seasons, impressing at both left-back and left-wing positions. A pacey, dynamic player, Ferguson has also become an international with Northern Ireland and been involved in several of Pardew’s squads towards the end of last season. With his slight physique, Ferguson does need to work on his body strength in order to offer more at first team level. Will definitely have some part to play with the added games this season.
Haris Vuckic: Arguably the youngster with the most talent at the club, Vuckic was only 17 when he made his debut for United in the Championship. Still just 19, Vuckic went on loan to Cardiff City of the Championship last season where he scored and impressed, as well as performing admirably when called upon for Newcastle, such as the home match against West Brom. Vuckic also has full international honours for Slovenia, and so the season ahead might just prove the breakthrough for the athletic midfielder.
Dan Gosling: At 22, Gosling just about makes it onto this list and the up and coming season must be seen as his last chance saloon. Signed in the summer of 2010, the last two years have been nothing short of a nightmare for Gosling, who has been plagued by injuries and a lack of form. With Danny Guthrie and Alan Smith now sold, as well as all the extra matches, Gosling will have opportunities to prove his worth this season.
Nile Ranger: A move to Sheffield Wednesday looks in the offing for Ranger, where he spent last season on loan, as Pardew and officials at the Newcastle appear to have lost patience. Chances of any involvement look bleak.
Davide Santon: It is hard to believe that Santon is still just 21, as he has 7 full Italy caps under his belt, as well as 40 league appearances for Inter Milan. Signed for £5million last summer, Santon took a while to settle and gain the trust of Pardew, as he spent the majority of the first half of the season on the bench. During the second half though, Santon came into his own, putting in many impressive performances and ending the season as a first team regular at left back. Still not the finished article, Santon does need to be reminded of his defensive duties at times. Despite this though, Santon looks a hugely impressive capture with bags of potential and one that will be a permanent fixture in the first team set up next year.
As well as the existing young talent at the club, Newcastle have also signed two promising youngsters in the latest window. Midfielders Amalfitano and Bigirimana, just 22 and 18 respectively, will also have the opportunities to impress at first team level this season. Therefore, the contribution of all the young players at the club could prove vital to Newcastle’s attempts to have a successful season on four fronts this year.