NUFC-exit or remain – The big Newcastle United decisions Steve Bruce must make as squad size comes under the microscope
It may seem like a long way off, but Newcastle United really need to start working on the make-up of their 25-man Premier League squad ahead of the top flight campaign.
Euro-fever (well, if you can call it that) continues to grip footballing consciousness across the continent but eyes on Tyneside continue to turn towards the summer, transfers and just who will make the cut when the Magpies come to naming their first-team squad for the 2021/22 top flight season.
Here we take a look at the squad as it stands – and assess who will find themselves at risk of the chop by United boss Steve Bruce, who looks certain to stay.
Full Newcastle United squad – who qualifies 28 (+1)
GOALKEEPERS: Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow, Mark Gillespie, Freddie Woodman
RIGHT-BACKS: Javier Manquillo, Jacob Murphy, Emil Krafth
LEFT-BACKS: Jamal Lewis, Matt Ritchie, Paul Dummett
CENTRAL DEFENDERS: Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez, Florian Lejeune, Kelland Watts
MIDFIELDERS: Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Matty Longstaff, Jeff Hendrick
ATTACKERS: Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron, Ryan Fraser (Elliot Anderson)
FORWARDS: Callum Wilson, Joelinton, Dwight Gayle, Andy Carroll
Goalkeepers – In, out & at risk
Martin Dubravka and Mark Gillespie are the two keepers who you’d say are as good as certainties to remain at Newcastle United next season.
Dubravka is United’s No.1 and proved himself more than worthy of the jersey in the final weeks of the Premier League campaign, having returned from injury.
Karl Darlow is an interesting one. Will he remain as United’s No.2, a very good one at that, or will he head elsewhere to get gametime? This is one to watch.
Also Freddie Woodman is most likely to head back out of United, but it is more likely to be a loan at this stage. It would again be intriguing if a cash bid was placed in for Woodman, or a proposition made from someone like Arsenal, who are long time admirers.
Full-backs – In, out and at risk
As per the Premier League retained list document, Jacob Murphy is under contract and therefore highly likely to stay, while Paul Dummett has activated an extension in his deal and will also remain.
After a learning campaign Jamal Lewis is a player United will likely stick with and Javier Manquillo provides decent cover on the right, although his place in the squad is far from concrete given his lack of gametime in the back end of the season.
Emil Krafth’s versatility may be viewed as a positive by Bruce, particularly if he sticks with the system and fails to land Kristoffer Ajer, or others, this summer.
Matt Ritchie is the player who looks most likely to leave. His want to return to the south coast appears too strong and this window, after two or three trying, he is likely to be granted his wish of a departure. He will be a big loss, mind.
Central defenders – In, out and at risk
The ‘ins’ look pretty nailed on. Fabian Schar will remain on Tyneside having seen his contract extension clause activated while skipper Jamaal Lascelles is the foundation of the defensive set.
United are looking to tie down Federico Fernandez, although that one is not done yet, and he must remain ‘at risk’.
Ciaran Clark may be one to watch for an exit, although a new contract is a sign that player and club are happy if he remains. An exit may well depend on whether United can tie down defensive reinforcements, which is something they are actively trying to do this window.
Florian Lejeune’s time on Tyneside looks to be done, with Bruce keen to move the player on and Kelland Watts looks certain to go out, you’d imagine, as he qualifies for a place in the United 25-man squad this season. Another League One or Championship loan may be explored.
Central midfielders – In, out and at risk
Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey are probably the two players who look the most likely to stay – and both do add value to the squad, even if the latter only does so in fits and starts.
Jeff Hendrick has done little to prove any worth in a season on Tyneside and while I’m sure United would be open to offers, a stay looks more likely.
The two at risk players are definitely Sean Longstaff and brother Matty Longstaff. Although, noises out of the club are that both could remain and play a part, despite rumours to the contrary elsewhere.
The future of one or two in this department probably depends on United’s ability to strengthen this summer.
Attackers – In, out and at risk
Elliot Anderson is likely to be sent out on loan by United, and this would absolutely be the right call for the youngster. However, were he to remain and be involved, he would not be included in the 25-man squad due to his age.
All three of the others are sure to stay, with Allan Saint-Maximin the player likely to be courted the most. United are reluctant sellers of any of their top talent this window.
Forwards – In, out and at risk
Callum Wilson is as in as you can get, while Joelinton probably played his way out of the ‘at risk’ category at the back end of last season. It has been baby steps with the Brazilian in many ways, but he has started to show he’s maybe getting to grips with the speed and physicality of the English game, finally.
The other two in the category are unknowns. Dwight Gayle is contracted and looks set to remain, although I’m sure the manager may be tempted by a cash offer from goal-hungry Championship sides, and Andy Carroll looked to be gone, but is in talks, as per reports elsewhere, about staying.