Chancel Mbemba has been called up by DR Congo for a game against Congo next month.

A training camp will be held in Morocco before the Newcastle defender and his international teammates play on Saturday 10 June.

With so many missing through injury, Mbemba is one of the few senior Newcastle players to be playing international football this summer, Daryl Murphy and Aleksandar Mitrovic the only other two confirmed so far.

However, it is matters closer to home that Newcastle fans are interested in.

Some players look definitely on their way out: Vurnon Anita, Grant Hanley, Achraf Lazaar, Yoan Gouffran, Sammy Ameobi and so on.

Whilst others such as Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark, Matt Ritchie, and Isaac Hayden, look nailed on to be forming a backbone of the team/squad as United step up to the Premier League.

Chancel Mbemba is one of those in between.

Recovering from injury, Mbemba missed the opening day defeat to Fulham but then played six of the next seven Championship matches.

A nightmare display from Mbemba and Lascelles saw a 2-0 home defeat to Wolves , Chancel Mbemba scoring an own goal, and either (or both) could have been dropped.

Maybe the captaincy saved Jamaal Lascelles but it was the DR Congo international who was dropped, only making one further Championship start in the next six and a half months, when Rafa made wholesale changes against Blackburn at home to rest players for the League Cup quarter-final at Hull.

Ciaran Clark took his chance superbly and was arguably Newcastle’s player of the season, alongside him though Jamaal Lascelles had a very up and down season, often struggling with a lack of pace.

Despite this, Chancel Mbemba wasn’t even mentioned and even when Newcastle’s form dipped after Christmas, the former Anderlecht player who had been one of the few to do himself justice in Newcastle’s relegation season, didn’t even get a look in.

Often he didn’t make the bench and yet even more surprisingly the journalists never pressed Rafa on why Mbemba wasn’t getting a chance, especially in light of Lascelles struggling.

Then in mid-March, Chancel Mbemba came out with a slightly off the wall offering.

Chancel Mbemba personal statement via his Twitter account – 17 March 2017:

“Despite my minimal playing time this season I am here and not giving up.

“I continue to train ardently and seriously and I will not give up until I find my place in the team.

“My wish is to come back stronger than ever and satisfy you, my fans, as I was able to do last season in the Premier League.

“Ecclesiastes 7: 8:

‘Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, better a patient mind than a haughty spirit’.

Injuries opened the door for Chancel Mbemba late on and he started five of the final seven Championship matches, including scoring his first Newcastle goal on the last day of the season, helping United clinch the title.

As he got his match fitness back in those late matches, Chancel Mbemba really started to look the part again, and many Newcastle fans wondered just how he would have done if paired with Ciaran Clark for much of the season.

Rafa Benitez’ decision to sideline Mbemba for so long, took on a further edge when it emerged that Jamaal Lascelles had been ‘playing through the pain barrier’ with an injury for the final five months of the season. The odd game when he was paired with Grant Hanley making particularly uncomfortable viewing as they had zero pace between them.

Like Ciaran Clark, as well as being capable of being a very promising defender, Chancel Mbemba is also quick and comfortable on the ball, two massive positives in the Premier League.

Maybe he will be sold this summer but I hope Chancel Mbemba gets another chance, playing alongside Ciaran Clark we could have a very good Premier League partnership, especially when pace/mobility is so important in the top tier.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • Franzcarrsuperstar

    Had a howler early season, lost his place then had injuries and decent form ahead of him stopping him get back in. That’s all. I feel like I’ve read this article 100 times already.

    Pretty boring stuff now. The thinly veiled way of using mbemba articles to bag our captain is really starting to irk me. I don’t think there is anyone that thinks Mbemba is [email protected], so I’m not sure what the point of these articles is. Only 11 men can get on the field and we’ve just won the title with the best defensive record…

    • Damon Horner

      No more to add!

  • Soldier

    his last few games proved what a good player he is & he is the youngest defender in the squad
    is he better than Lascelles, Yes by a long way. next season Rafa needs to stop picking blue eyed boys ahead of better players

    • Geordiegiants

      Rafa needs to keep doing exactly what he is doing in my opinion. He is a winner!

      • Soldier

        we`ll find out when we go against the big boys & he does play his blue eyed boys come rain or shine

        • Geordiegiants

          We certainly will, he has been in the business long enough to know who is best suited, to what system, against a particular team. That is why we finished champions of the last league we played in.

  • Leicester Mag

    In my view the only potential top 6 Centre half we have. Arguably a better PL player than championship. As for comments when not playing, rather that than happy to be simply paid for nowt, had plenty like that

  • Brian Standen

    A good article but I don’t think lascelles is as slow as people think.. Mbemba is def PL quality – so along with Clark options are there

    • Geordiegiants

      I agree Brian. We have 3 quality centre halves. Rafa can only pick 2 a game, so someone has to sit it out. He makes a more closely formed decision than we do sitting on the keyboard making judgment on players we know very very little about, except what we see on the pitch.

      • molend

        Or play three at the back, which I suggested in September. I agree it didn’t work for Villa, but it has for other teams and if we’ve got three decent centre backs, why not use them?

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Think part of the problem with Mbemba was his level of English. He barely spoke any and at the back you need good communication. Maybe hes getting better naturally but Rafa forced him to do so in my eyes.

  • Mrkgw

    Mbemba is definitely one for Rafa to retain and I hope that he gets a place in the first eleven come kick off next season.

  • brin mcardle

    Keep Anita….

  • Cuh736

    The hate being thrown at Lascelles is what I’ll never understand

    • Natturner26

      I just think we’ll concede goals at a relegation rate if he starts next season. I don’t feel hateful at all.

  • Damon Horner

    I can see this article appearing several times over next season, why we’re attacking Lascelles because Mbemba is sitting out is beyond me.

    Mbemba is a young defender who doesn’t know the language and came from a weaker league, he was the best defender in a relegated side, the bigger crime was he had to play so much.

    He has potential but let’s not pretend he is top drawer just yet.

  • Toon Army AZ

    We have 3 solid options at center back with Premier League credentials. Nothing much to talk about. Discussions about other positions would be more interesting.