Away from the Premier League spotlight, a clutch of unwanted Newcastle players train in the shadows

Grant Hanley
Grant Hanley

Rafa Benitez's players trained in front of thousands yesterday.

An estimated 12,000 fans visited a sun-baked St James's Park yesterday for Newcastle United's open day.

Benitez, without three injured defenders, called up Curtis Good and Macaulay Gillesphey from the club's Under-23 squad for the session.

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And that was telling. Where was Grant Hanley? And Massadio Haidara? And Jack Colback? Why weren't they called up?

So as the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie trained in the spotlight, others worked in the shadows a few miles away at the club's training ground.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Those three players have been given squad numbers – unlike Tim Krul, Achraf Lazaar and Emmanuel Riviere, who were sent to the Academy last month – but their futures at the club look just as bleak.

The Gazette reported last week that Colback was set to be left out of the club's 25-man Premier League squad.

Colback, a target for Aston Villa, has also reportedly been involved in a bust-up at the club's training ground.

Benitez decided some time ago that Krul, Lazaar and Riviere would not play for the club again.

Achraf Lazaar

Achraf Lazaar

In the case of Krul, the club's longstanding No 1, he has been particularly ruthless.

If United's manager gets the players he wants between now and the end of the transfer window, then Colback, Hanley and Haidara will all miss out on places in his Premier League squad.

They haven't been frozen out. But they haven't exactly been part of his squad in recent weeks.

Benitez wants them all to find new clubs, but that won't be easy given their wages. And Lazaar, signed last summer, has four years left on his contract. So too has Hanley.

Loans might be the best, and most realistic, option for some of them, and deals might not get done until the final days, even hours, of the transfer window.

Benitez, however, needs them off the wage bill sooner rather than later.

Newcastle's manager, having settled on his squad, is doing what he can to nudge those unwanted players towards the exit door in the final weeks of the transfer window.

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