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Opinion

Newcastle United minority report – You might not agree

1 month ago
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The Newcastle United players are looking ahead to the new season.

Fair to say that many of them will be looking forward to it as much as the fans.

The club finally awoken from its slumbers and given new life, ambition and progress at the forefront of this NUFC project.

For other Newcastle United players it is simply a case of when, not if, they will be leaving. Even though we have already seen the likes of Woodman, Hayden, Hendrick and Clark depart, others still need to follow who are also not in Eddie Howe’s plans.

What I wanted to talk about here though, are four Newcastle United players who may surprise this season.

Presenting my Newcastle United minority report…I say minority because I am pretty certain that in each case I won’t be in the majority when it comes to my predictions for any of this quartet.

Jamaal Lascelles

To be honest, I thought he was nailed on to be leaving.

The club captain will turn 29 in November, has two years left on his contract, found himself behind first choice Burn and Schar in second half of season, now Sven Botman brought in as well.

However, no sale as yet and Lascelles was recently used as one of the players to promote the new white and green shirt.  It would be very naive to think a player, with any doubts about his future, would be used to market the new kit without conversations having taking place beforehand with the manager / head coach.

My reading of it is that Eddie Howe will have Botman and Burn as his first choice BUT Schar and Lascelles to be also given a certain number of games. Especially with Newcastle set to have a real go in the cups, hopefully plenty of games there and I see Lascelles captaining the team in those for starters. Plus of course in all positions in the team, injuries are always possible.

We also have Schar heading off to the World Cup in Qatar, plus Botman standing every chance of a promotion to the senior squad, especially if starting well in the Premier League. A busy season ahead and I don’t think we have seen the last of the NUFC captain.

Jamal Lewis

Matt Targett will obviously start the season as first choice but I can see Jamal Lewis getting opportunities as well in this new season.

It was a total joke that Steve Bruce paid £15m for the left-back and then for the final eight months of his (Bruce’s) time at NUFC totally ignored him in the Premier League, even playing a continually struggling out of position Matt Ritchie in front of him.

Eddie Howe got him up to speed along with the rest of the squad and given four Premier League starts, I thought Jamal Lewis was certainly giving us plenty of room for optimism, until then injury intervened.

As with Lascelles, cup matches will certainly give Lewis opportunities and with a League Cup game in late August, an all but guaranteed early chance to impress Eddie Howe.

Sean Longstaff

Probably one of the players who suffered most under Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley. Messed around totally when it came to his contract, staying for years on a minimal deal that was agreed before he had even played a minute in the Premier League.

Getting a real chance late in the season when starting four of the final five Premier League matches, Sean Longstaff impressed in the wins over Norwich, Arsenal and Burnley.

Particularly in that Arsenal match, Eddie Howe played a far more attacking pressing formation and that perfectly suited the Geordie midfielder.

With it seemingly not likely that Newcastle sign a midfielder, it means a place in the team available alongside Bruno and Joelinton. Up against the likes of Shelvey and Willock, Longstaff has every chance of potentially starting as Eddie Howe’s first choice and then up to the player himself to prove he should stay in the team.

Chris Wood

As with Lascelles and Lewis, Wood won’t be in the starting eleven against Nottingham Forest in 22 days time.

However, I think he will still get a decent number of starts and be a regular sub. Especially when this season five will be allowed.

Having scored 49 goals in the previous four and half Premier League campaigns, Chris Wood only added another two with NUFC last season. However, he was a key player in Eddie Howe’s tactical plan, defending from the front and Newcastle picking up 29 points in Wood’s 15 PL starts.

Wood will start in the cup matches for sure and with Wilson’s injury record, will also get a decent number of starts in the Premier League, as Eddie Howe looks to keep Callum Wilson available throughout. The England striker having only managed to start 39 of the 76 PL games so far for Newcastle.

Chris Wood should have had a few more goals last season but with the generally defence first tactics and the Kiwi asked to run tirelessly in an unselfish team role, in reality he didn’t have loads of chances. This season Newcastle will get more on the front foot and we will surely see an improvement on the often atrocious crossing we saw last season. Kieran Trippier will be one of the main movers in that, from both open play and on set-pieces.

Chris Wood scored double figures in each of his first four PL seasons and I predict double figures this coming season, though spread over both league and cup matches.

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