The centre of defence is the only position in the team where Newcastle United have any kind of strength in depth.

Jamaal Lascelles and Florian Lejeune ended last season so well, only for injury to strike him down before this campaign started.

Initial estimates were that anything up to the full season he’d be missing but since then, encouraging reports have suggested that he could be back by the end of the year.

The summer saw a lot of movement in the position with Chancel Mbemba going out and Fabian Schar coming in, with Federico Fernandez arriving late on after Lejeune was ruled out.

No surprise though that Rafa Benitez has initially went with Ciaran Clark alongside Lascelles, the manager taking his usual route of not throwing in new players without preparation.

None of the new faces have started this season, with only Dubravka and Kenedy who were here last season, starting in the first eleven.

With decent strikers things may have been different for Cardiff but it was a clean sheet at the end of the day, pretty much ensuring surely that Ciaran Clark will continue alongside Lascelles for the time being.

However, Rafa is surely intending to bring in Fernandez early on, unless Clark can show the kind of form he did in the Championship.

Very few players in this current squad go public with any complaints when left out and that was the case for the Irish international when losing out to Lejeune last season, ahead of the Chelsea match on Sunday Clark declaring ‘We’ve got a great team spirit and great attitude within the whole squad.’

Ignoring the Man City match where it is difficult to imagine any kind of a positive outcome, the next two home games saw only one goal conceded in the same fixtures last season.

Arguably Newcastle did catch both Arsenal and Chelsea at a good time back in April and May, but no reason why Rafa’s players can’t give them both a good game, and certainly if Newcastle can concede only one goal in three hours of football, that would be a great start. Newcastle United only conceding seven goals in those final nine PL matches of last season.

The character of the team/squad will be severely tested in these next three games, three or more points would be a great boost to the confidence of both the Newcastle fans and players.

Ciaran Clark:

“Once the window shuts, that is it.

“I think everyone has got their heads screwed on and everyone knows this is the squad.

“It probably gives everyone a bit more focus and takes everyone’s minds off everything else.

“It is full focus on the football side of things and we have done that.

“We were unlucky in our first game (v Spurs) as I felt we did enough to take at least a point and we could have come away with three (at Cardiff).

“We will take the positives and keep working hard, we’ve got a great team spirit and great attitude within the whole squad

“I think that showed when we went down to 10 men – we kept going, kept fighting, it could have swung our way in the end and we were a bit unlucky that it didn’t.

“That is one thing we will always have, that good attitude and commitment no matter who’s playing, that is what helped us through and ultimately got us to where we finished last season. We need to try and keep that.

“I think we knew the type of game it would be (on Saturday at Cardiff), it was always going to be a fight –  a lot of hard work and both teams put that in.

“I can’t remember too many chances, down to 10 men it was always going to be a tough one but we managed to keep going and keep fighting.

“We got the penalty at the end and it is one of those things, people can miss them.

“We came away with a point and we are disappointed but it’s a point at the end of the day.

“Even with 10 men I can’t remember there being too many chances for them, we didn’t see as much of the ball as we would have liked and e always knew it was going to be that type of game.

“It was always going to be a fight.”

  • mentalman

    One of the new centre backs need to be brought in instead of clark.

    We struggle when he plays, he plays too many aimless long balls up the pitch and isn’t that dominant in the air at set pieces.

    It also has an effect on who he is partnering as they seem to get dragged in to kicking the ball up field rather than bringing the ball out of defence which has a massive impact on the midfield to

    • Wor Lass

      That`s what Lejeune gave and why he`s badly missed.

      • mentalman

        Not only do we miss his ability but Lascelles is so much better next to him

    • Ram Kishore

      I think we already have too many centre backs once fernandez or Schar steps up and when Lejeune comes back.. he will be a useful squad player for two more years imo.. he’s not the best but he’s ok..

      • mentalman

        Depending on how well schar does you could see Clark being 5th choice soon, do we need 5 centre backs when we only have 1 lb and 2 poor rb’s.

        • Ram Kishore

          We wouldn’t have bought Fernandez in first place if it had been a short term injury for lejeune.. i think the money we.spent on two Right back was good sum.. for Rbs 5 million pound isn’t a bargain imo.. its just that Manqy is not the right buy until now

          • mentalman

            He’ll never be the right buy, full backs need to be a priority in the next transfer window

          • Ram Kishore

            Maybe a LB probably, i dont think a RB would be sought after in the Jan window and there is a possibility of a CAM. Either none or max 2 players for Jan window..Just a speculation lol

  • ScreamStevie

    I’m not sure I’d quite describe Clark as a ‘star’…

  • Wor Lass

    Judging by his summer holiday exploits, Ciaran knows a lot about getting into fights but not much about winning them!