DAVIDE Santon could line up at right-back for Newcastle United this season – but Alan Pardew still sees his future at left-back.
The right-footed Italy international, signed from Inter Milan a year ago, lined up on the left last season.
But United manager Pardew – who is keen to sign right-back Mathieu Debuchy from Lille this summer – has used Santon on the opposite side of his defence this pre-season.
Pardew – faced with a potentially-congested fixture list in the coming campaign – is keeping his options open, and he’s likely to continue to experiment over the coming weeks, with Olympiakos next up for Newcastle on Portugal’s Algarve tomorrow night.
There’s also still uncertainty over right-back Danny Simpson’s future at St James’s Park.
Simpson, almost an ever-present last term, is out of contract in a year’s time, and talks over a new deal stalled late last season, with the 25-year-old’s long-term future now seemingly lying away from Tyneside.
“I’m looking at all options,” Pardew told the Gazette. “There are going to be times when we need to throw people around.
“Davide Santon’s the left-back here – that’s his favourite position – but it might well be that Davide and Ryan Taylor start at right-back and left-back.
“I’m keeping my options open, and pre-season’s a time to experiment, which we are doing. So far, so good.”
Another option for Pardew at right-back is James Tavernier, who has impressed in Newcastle’s three pre-season games so far.
However, Pardew is increasingly seeing versatile Tavernier – who spent the bulk of the last season and a half on loan – as a centre-half.
And the 20-year-old – who signed a new long-term deal at the club earlier this month – impressed in the centre of defence alongside captain Fabricio Coloccini in United’s last match, the 1-1 draw against Fenerbahce in Austria last Saturday.
n NEWCASTLE United’s games at the Algarve Stadium, Portugal, against Olympiakos tomorrow night (kick-off 8.45pm BST), and Braga 24 hours later, are being screened live by ESPN.
You can watch them at The Clock, Hebburn.