It was recently revealed that Newcastle United will be releasing a large number of young reserve players when their contracts are up in June.

Nothing new about this as it is a yearly thing but it is claimed that the clearout will be a bit more extensive than usual.

Rafa Benitez is said to be unhappy with the general levels of ability underneath the first team and is hoping to improve that significantly in the coming seasons.

The obvious hope being that first team players will eventually be produced via the youth set-up, whether they are local or from further afield.

The latest name to be revealed today, is Mackenzie Heaney.

The 19 year old is one of those said to have been told he will not have his contract renewed and could be set to join Norwich after going though for a trial, according to media reports.

Those media reports have generally come with comments such as Newcastle ‘letting top young talent leave’ included.

I think we have to have some sense of perspective here.

Pretty much any young players with any prospect of making it at Newcastle, will head out on loan these days. The likes of Adam Armstrong and Freddie Woodman maybe the most high profile.

However, the bottom line is that even these better players going out on loan are not usually at a great level.

Freddie Woodman is turning out for Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier and Adam Armstrong is at a similar level probably, playing regularly and scoring goals at the top of League One, having had his last two loan spells in the Championship, at Barnsley and Bolton.

For the rest though, they tend to be lower down League One, into League Two and non-league, with also many of them struggling to get a game.

This doesn’t mean that they are poor players or should be written off BUT it does make clear just how far away they are from potentially turning out for Newcastle in the Premier League.

Good luck to Mackenzie Heaney if he can get a chance and contract at Norwich and give it a go BUT that doesn’t mean in anyway that Newcastle are necessarily wrong for releasing him.

He is 19 and has only started two reserve league games this season, none last season (2016/17)  or before that.

If you compare to NUFC midfielder Dan Balaser, he is almost exactly two years older (the pair born in January of 1997 and 1999 respectively) than Mackenzie Heaney. Two years ago Barlaser started 18 reserve league games in 2015/16 and indeed started the same number the season (2014/15) before.

Barlaser went out on loan to Crewe nine weeks ago but is yet to start a game, playing only 58 minutes in three brief sub appearances so far. Crewe are fifth bottom of League Two and level on points with Grimsby who are third bottom, yet so far he can’t get a game at that level.

This once again shows the gulf between the Newcastle youth set-up now…and what is really needed in the future. We haven’t got a host of Premier League hopefuls waiting in the wings, instead we have a host of young players that we hope might make it in the lower leagues. The likes of Woodman an exception and maybe Adam Armstrong, although he has found it difficult to make the jump from League One to Championship so far.

Bottom line is that Newcastle reserves are second bottom of division two of the reserve league at the minute.

Rafa Benitez clearly knows just what is needed and must be given the facilities, time and resources needed to make that happen over time.

When Newcastle have something like half a dozen young prospects all starring for the better clubs in the Championship (or equivalent clubs abroad), or other clubs in the lower reaches of the Premier League, we will know that the club are in a healthy position moving forward.

Reality is that NUFC are a long long way away from that but as somebody once said, every journey starts with a single step.

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  • NUFCDan

    Yet again all money. Other clubs in the PL will happily spend £5-10 on 16-18 year old players based on their potential and either loan them out or play in the reserves. We spend that much on first team players. Chelsea’s 4th or 5th choice left winger can come here on loan and look like our best player. With a handful of exceptions like Marcus Maddison most of our reserve players don’t even make it in the Conference.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Yo say other clubs, you mean a couple of the stinking rich clubs do that. Chelsea and City do it, others have tie ups with other clubs but outside that top 5, clubs do not spend £5m on a 16-18 yo.

      • NUFCDan

        Everton spent that much on Gibson and Lookman. Bournemouth spent a similar amount getting Cook from Leeds a couple of years ago.

        • paul mclaughlan

          I’m no Ashley fan. But spending that sort of money based on potential is madness. And has pretty much destroyed any hope of kids coming through academies of making it.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            It is, you only have to look at the players that moved for big money as youngsters, more fail than make it. These headline figurers are rarely paid, usually it’s a “deal worth….” i.e if the player moves, makes the first team, 10 appearances, international caps etc.

          • Whickhamrobbie

            would you rather spend 5 mill on Foden or Joselu ,sometimes you need to take a punt and give them a chance (unlike Thauvan gone too soon )

          • paul mclaughlan

            I’ve talked to young lads in the academy. And they all say the same thing. Clubs are more interested in buying in young players rather than developing lads already in the youth system. Saves the clubs money in the long run. Only problem is most of the top clubs youth system is a joke with very few players coming through. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t John Terry the last player to come through the ranks at Chelsea?

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          I think we’ve got £800k so far, the deal is full of contingencies. I’d give you Lookman, I think he was £6.5m with contingencies added on

    • Whickhamrobbie

      Maddison is one of the best players in that division he was fantastic for the Heed as was Tavernier who is one of Rangers top performers.
      Its true our reserve/junior set up is dire but lack of investment by the fat lad has filtered down to even youth level and even our better coaches are leaving to try their luck elsewhere .
      Lets face facts Gibson has a better chance with Everton than with us

  • Lord

    And yet when we did have a hot young prospect (Lewis Gibson) he got sold to Everton.

    Why? Ashley cashing in? Not seeing any long term prospects under Rafa/NUFC? Peter Beardsley?

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      It was hardly a case of voluntarily cashing in, we didn’t have much choice. It has come out that PB may have been a factor.

      What we do need is to have a better reputation.

      As Sunderland are in trouble, it may be an opportunity to improve our facilities and nick their best youngsters.

    • 1957

      Rumours at u23 games were he was influenced by the lack of progress his brother made under Beardsley and Everton came up with a year by year plan on what he needed to achieve to get to the first team, NUFC’s management couldn’t.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    A shame as this guy looked a good prospect and represented England. Saw him at Boro in the under 18 cup and we got through largely due to him.
    Think a new club will do him good and will make a living out the game probably in league one with Adam Armstrong. Hardly Ashley’s fault as this has been going on well before he came apart from Southampton not many players seem to break through these days.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    The 1st team squad is bad enough, go below that & it`s dross,
    Whats Pedro been doing these past years ?
    in fact what`s he doing now

    • robbersdog

      Gardening leave.

    • 1957

      The few games I’ve seen since he was suspended, have shown a marked improvement in team performance.

  • 1957

    I’ve been to quite a few games below 1st team level and, although I’m not a football expert, I’m think its pretty safe to say we are not ‘letting top young talent leave’. To me we have no one in that group that will be a regular performer in the PL despite the efforts of Ryder and the Chronicle hacks to convince us otherwise, remember they pushed Tom Heardman as the new Andy Carroll…he’s more like the next Joselu.

    We seem to struggle to get hold of the best youngsters in the first place and those we get have had to put up with the Watson and Beardsley regimes.

  • Aussie Bill

    It seems to be that sometimes young players need nuturing, patience and good coaching. Wasn’t Gazza too fat, Shearer and Beardsley not what we were looking for as kids? Raffa may be a great manager with great players, but he and his immediate predecessors have rarely given a kid a chance even on the bench. It is easy for armchair critics to put down the kids and sure they are not on top their comp, but they are in three cup finals, which is more than you can say about the first team.

    • Damon Horner

      It might be about the kids not being good enough at times but it’s more about risking the result which remains the priority for boards and fans so youngsters play mainly when they’re good enough or best available unfortunately. Just need to see reaction to our team selection in the cups. It’s easier for bigger sides who can blood them when they’re 3-0 up.

  • StevieB

    I agree with you.
    I also think that over the last 10 years our youth produce has declined as the key point in there development is the time in which they are thrust into the first team and left to “swim” for themselves, and for the most part of 10 years we’ve been involved in a relegation fight or a championship chase where we were unable to take a risk on blooding a youth as the games were just too important most of the time .our conditions just haven’t lent itself well to player development. Look further up the table at the likes of Everton who let that young blonde scraggy haired kid play consistently and vwallah…now he’s a regular . Holgate is his name. Rashford, joe Gomez,take your pick from The Southampton lot , the list goes on.
    We’re miles away from creating anything like the names above , but I like the fact Rafa is clearing out and starting from scratch. But as I said there final destination is on the pitch at st James for the first team and that current environment is no place for a youngster to flourish at the minute.

  • Down Under Mag

    There is always an annual clear-out and it needs to happen, the club shouldn’t be running as a charity to kids who have no chance to make it, as hard as that may be to some. It is a sad fact of life that the vast majority of youth team players will not make it at Premier League levels. However, I will also temper that with an indictment of the current state of our youth teams and their seeming inability to produce players at all. We have a number of players out on loan and while i’m not suggesting that players such as Armstrong should be playing for us, it is a big worry that no matter what kind of prospect we have on the books we never seem to actually IMPROVE these young players, in fact they seem to stagnate and go backwards. The other concern is how unprepared they are to go into first team football…

    To be honest, i’ve said for a while that there is something fundamentally wrong with our academy setup and coaching, and more so than us letting a bunch of kids leave that we know won’t make make it (albeit there is always going to be the release of Shearer because he wasn’t a ‘good defender’ hanging over our heads), i’ts worrying that someone like Lewis Gibson saw his future away from St James Park. Somethign certainly needs to be fixed if we aren’t seen as a viable option to develop talent by even the young players themselves!