Whilst Rafa Benitez has now made clear he is expecting to clear a lot of unwanted players out of the club very shortly, Peter Beardsley has been giving us an indication of the overcrowding below first team level at the minute.
Last night saw Beardsley take the second string to Darlington and they won 2-1 with goals from Sean Longstaff and Ivan Toney.
However, Newcastle fielded two completely different teams in each half, obviously making it 22 players who got game time.
That number though doesn’t include Callum Roberts and Victor Fernandez who got a temporary promotion this week, experiencing training in Ireland with the first team.
That makes 24 players for Peter Beardsley at his disposal when they return but he has revealed that then he will have another eight on top of that, making it 32 players in total at reserve/under 23 level.
Last season saw last night’s goalscorers, Sean Longstaff and Ivan Toney, go out on loan, two of numerous temporary moves that thinned the ranks last season.
That process is definitely going to be repeated this time and with Rafa Benitez bringing in more and more players below first team level, it is going to be yet another major job in terms of getting younger players out of the club to get the necessary first team experience elsewhere.
With the sheer numbers involved, it is a bit depressing to think of just how many arrive at the club and come up through the younger age groups, yet it is real needle in the haystack finding the odd one who will make it at Newcastle United. The rest eventually shown the door and hopefully finding another club at whatever level.
Obviously it will be a very long job to turn around what has been a failing youth system at Newcastle for so long but it is heartening to see the amount of work Rafa Benitez has already been prepared to put in to get it moving in the right direction. Naturally, we all hope this is an indicator that he sees Newcastle as a longer-term project.
Peter Beardsley speaking to the official club site after beating Darlington:
“We started brilliantly, scored two goals and could have had a third. We created some chances, and played some lovely football.
“I thought the first half team were really good and could have been more ahead. It’s not easy, as I said to them at half time, when you change the whole team, which was obviously the plan we had. But a win’s a win, and the most important thing is that everyone got 45 minutes.
“To be fair, Darlington are amazing to us, but the pitch isn’t perfect –it’s a rugby pitch, so it’s not a football pitch as such. But they looked after us last year, they’ve looked after us this year, so it’s always nice to come.”
“Callum Smith gave a great pass for the first goal, and then Ivan did a great bit of skill for the second. “Ivan looked really sharp, and I can understand, watching that, why people keep taking him on loan.
“He’s got great ability, he’s a great kid with great attitude and loves training, and it shows in the way he plays.
“I thought Stefan was really good in the first half, and that was probably when we were at our best.
“And to be fair to Josef, he was very solid, very powerful and probably what we thought he would be.
“We had 20 outfield players that played tonight, and two keepers. We’ve got another eight to come, and then Callum Roberts and Victor (Fernandez) who are with the first team in Ireland.
“It’s brilliant for them. Rafa’s done this before (giving younger players chance to train with first team), and continues to do it, and it’s great for them to have a week with them. It’ll be good for them to get to know a few of them.
“Callum went out to Kilmarnock (on loan last season) probably at the wrong time for him, as he might have got a chance in the first team earlier, but he’s away with them now, and hopefully it’ll go well.
“It’ll be great for him and Victor to be around that group. It’ll be a brilliant experience for them.”
Darlington 1 Newcastle 2
Harker, Williams, Cameron, Hunter, Good, O’Connor, El-Mhanni, Barlaser, Longstaff, C Smith, Toney
Huuhtanen, Newberry, Yarney, Findlay, Gillesphey, Kitchen, Ward, L.Smith, Juanito, Charman, Gallacher
The first team friendlies:
Friday 14 July – Hearts 1 Newcastle 2
Saturday 22 July – Preston away 3pm
Wednesday 26 July – Bradford away 7.30pm
Saturday 29 July – Mainz away 4pm local time (3pm UK time)
Wednesday 2 August – Wolfsburg away 4pm local time (3pm UK time)
Sunday 6 August – Hellas Verona home 3pm
Under 23/Reserves pre-season friendlies:
Monday 17 July – Darlington 1 Newcastle 2
Saturday 22 July – Gateshead (at International Stadium)
Thursday 27 July – Celtic (at Whitby Town)
Saturday 29 July – AZ Alkmaar or Whitby (at Whitby Town)