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Opinion

Newcastle United squad – Urgent changes needed with at least these three new signings

4 weeks ago
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Ahead of the opening match against West Ham, 31 players in Newcastle United squad were given shirt numbers.

Once the transfer window closes in 14 days time (31 August 2021), all Premier League clubs have to supply a 25 man senior squad, with only those players able to play in PL matches until we get to the mid-season transfer window and changes can be made.

Tuesday is day 70 of the transfer window and Joe Willock remains the only signing, though even he didn’t arrive in time to be involved against West Ham.

To no great surprise, Steve Bruce made out that Newcastle signing Joe Willock was some kind of a miracle, rather than a normal kind of Premier League signing that pretty much all PL clubs had already made in this transfer window.

Certainly, all Newcastle’s relegation rivals have made this level of investment in their squads, most of them significantly more.

Steve Bruce made reference to Newcastle’s squad now being full and players needing to leave to make room, so how does this Newcastle United squad look now?

GOALKEEPERS

Martin Dubravka, Freddie Woodman, Karl Darlow, Mark Gillespie

FULL BACKS / WING BACKS

Matt Ritchie, Jamal Lewis, Jacob Murphy, Javier Manquillo, Emil Krafth

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Jeff Hendrick, Joe Willock

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS / WINGERS

Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron, Ryan Fraser

STRIKERS

Callum Wilson, Joelinton, Dwight Gayle, Tom Allan

***Rules on U21 players

Under-21 players are eligible over and above the limit of 25 players per squad. For the 2021/22 campaign Under-21 players will have been born on or after 1 January 2000. This means that the likes of goalkeeper Dan Langley, Matty Longstaff, Jack Young, Joe White, Elliot Anderson are extras to the above senior options.

Looking at the 26 senior options above, it includes four goalkeepers and Tom Allan. The young striker will likely go out on loan and if not, will surely be playing for the Under 23s and would only be named as one of the senior 25 PL players, if it was to make up the numbers, in the event of not enough other senior players as options.

If Newcastle United name three goalkeepers, there is already space to bring in one more senior signing (assuming Tom Allan not included).

Personally, I would like to see some hectic action in these final two weeks of the transfer window, action that should have happened far earlier in this transfer window.

Sunday’s opening defeat reminded us of the strengths and weaknesses of this Newcastle United squad that in reality, most of us surely knew already.

Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron. Plus…

Well when it comes to positives, I think Freddie Woodman suggesting he is yet another very decent goalkeeping option alongside Dubravka and Darlow, was the big thing we could take from the defeat.

After that though, I think we are struggling.

Jacob Murphy is doing ok when going forward in his wing-back position but for me is really lacking when it comes to defending. Whilst on the other side of the pitch I think Matt Ritchie most definitely can’t be first choice week in week out.

Steve Bruce has spent £15m on Jamal Lewis and he hasn’t made a single Premier League start since February, talk of him being young etc etc but he will turn 24 in January and he already has four seasons of first team action behind him at NUFC and Norwich. Time to play him, or look for another option I reckon.

Shelvey once again a liability in central midfield, whilst surely people now recognise that Isaac Hayden gives his all but isn’t good enough to be first choice. Hendrick terrible, whilst Sean Longstaff has gone backwards under Bruce.

Central defenders? A strange situation where apart from Krafth who obviously isn’t up to the job, all of the other options (Lascelles, Fernandez, Schar, Dummett and Clark) are popular with fans but collectively aren’t good enough.

A lot of talk about adding a younger quicker centre-back but so far that is all it has been, talk.

I think that what Newcastle United need in these final 14 days before the window closes, is definitely another striker, a central midfielder and a central defender. Whilst ideally, better options in both full-back / wing-back positions.

The right thing to do for me, is to try and move on Jonjo Shelvey, Jeff Hendrick, Joelinton and Emil Krafth to make space for better players and help finance them. I wouldn’t be averse either to also moving out Ritchie or Lewis, Manquillo as well as he doesn’t seem set to feature, whilst Isaac Hayden maybe moved out as well if that would help ensure a new quality holding midfielder could be brought in.

This is the time to be ruthless, it has been far too late but the warning signs are there and action needed before this transfer window closes.

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