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State of Newcastle United squad back in training – Only 1 new face and 26 days to Premier League kick-off

1 month ago
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I make it that we have 27 Newcastle United squad members contracted for the 2020/21 season.

However, anybody feeling reassured by that total, needs to think again.

You are allowed 25 senior (not classed as Under 21s) members of your official Premier League squad, however, the reality is that Newcastle don’t have anything close to that number (fit and ready for the Premier League) from current options available.

On Monday (tomorrow), the Newcastle United squad return for pre-season training – Only 26 days to Premier League kick-off.

With less than four weeks until next season kicks off, this is where we are at, only one new face added so far – New third choice keeper Mark Gillespie.

Freddie Woodman having gone out on loan again for the season, after announcing a new three year NUFC deal on Sunday.

NEWCASTLE UNITED SQUAD AVAILABLE FOR 2020/21 SEASON with less than four weeks until it kicks off:

GOALKEEPERS

Dubravka, Darlow, Gillespie

RIGHT-BACKS

Manquillo, Krafth, Yedlin

LEFT-BACKS

Dummett, Lazaar

CENTRE-BACKS

Lascelles, Fernandez, Lejeune, Schar, Clark

WINGERS / ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Ritchie, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Murphy, Aarons, Atsu

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Shelvey, Saivet

STRIKERS

Joelinton, Gayle, Carroll, Muto

After going through the 27 players above, these are the ones who I believe are good enough to be first choice in this coming season and in brackets those decent enough to be Premier League squad / back-up players:

NEWCASTLE UNITED SQUAD for 2020/21 – Fit for purpose:

GOALKEEPERS

Dubravka (Darlow, Gillespie)

RIGHT-BACKS

(Manquillo)

LEFT-BACKS

(Dummett)

CENTRE-BACKS

Lascelles, Fernandez, Lejeune, Schar, Clark

WINGERS / ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Almiron, Saint-Maximin (Ritchie)

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Hayden (Sean Longstaff, Shelvey)

STRIKERS

(Joelinton, Gayle)

With Dubravka plus the other two keepers, that leaves 22 positions open for outfield players.

By my reckoning this leaves us with the following outfield players who are good enough quality:

First team regulars:

Lascelles, Fernandez, Lejeune, Schar, Clark, Hayden, Almiron, Saint-Maximin

Back-up:

Manquillo, Dummett, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff, Shelvey, Joelinton, Gayle

Looking at the nine outfield players I totally discounted, in my opinion: Krafth, Yedlin, Lazaar, Murphy, Aarons, Atsu, Saivet and Muto are clearly not of the standard needed for the Premier League. As for Carroll, he is totally unreliable in terms of fitness and I don’t think he has ever been fully fit this past season, so doubt very much if that would be the case in 2020/21 at any time.

As for the eight I have put forward as being comfortable with as first team regulars, the most striking thing is that five of them are centre-backs.

Almiron and Saint-Maximin are obviously good enough, as is Hayden in my opinion. However, big question marks on Hayden as he has repeatedly said he wants to move back down south and he only has a year left on his contract. It will be really disappointing to lose him but I will be amazed if he stays on, would be great to hear he’d signed another contract but instead I think it will be bids from other PL clubs we will be hearing about.

As for the seven I listed as back-up players, I think they are all capable of playing a part in the 2020/21 season but all have question marks in one way or another that stops me listing them as first teamers.

Manquillo is good back-up but shouldn’t be our first choice right-back, whilst Paul Dummett appears to be increasingly injury prone and is already doubtful for the start of the season, due to some unspecified injury.

Matt Ritchie was never particularly quick and definitely showing signs this past season of slowing further, playing out wide is very difficult without pace.

Sean Longstaff has had his share of injury issues and is still at the stage of convincing that he can make it as first choice in the Premier League.

No doubt Shelvey will have his supporters as automatic first choice but these past four and a half years tell us that he blows very hot and cold. His lack of pace / mobility always going to be a negative as well.

As for Joelinton, who knows? Maybe he can feel the benefit of having a PL season behind him but certainly as a goalscorer, very difficult / impossible to be counting on him.

Dwight Gayle is what he is. A striker who lurks in that area of too good for the Championship but almost certainly not a PL first choice. He also currently only has one year left on his contract and as well, his injury record says you can’t count on him for a full season anyway.

WHAT IS NEEDED IN THE SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW?

It is a bit daunting when you look at what is needed.

I think for starters, we need two full-backs, one for either side.

At least one central midfielder, two if Hayden leaves.

One new striker as an absolute minimum but in reality, at least two are needed.

Another winger / wide man is also needed but with Almiron, Asm and then Ritchie as back-up, probably could manage with a cheaper / younger recruit who would at least at this stage be back-up rather than expected to be a first team regular.

To hear of Jeff Hendrick set to reportedly set to be a new free transfer signing, doesn’t fill me with joy. Whilst claims Chris Smalling is also going to be signed, are equally baffling, a decent central defender but that is one position where we have a strong choice, with Lascelles and Fernandez first choice and Schar, Lejeune, Dummett and Clark as back-up. Smalling wouldn’t be coming unless to be first choice and he turns 31 in only a few months, Newcastle already having a very much ageing squad.

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