Should they stay – or should they go?
A clutch of Newcastle United players are waiting to find out if they will be loaned out.
The short-term futures of Freddie Woodman, Jamie Sterry, Sean Longstaff and Callum Roberts will be decided by Rafa Benitez.
Benitez is prepared to loan out at least one of them before the end of the month.
The quartet played in Monday night’s 5-0 Premier League 2 Division Two win over Sunderland at St James’s Park.
And Under-23 coach Ben Dawson hopes they will seize their chances – whether they’re playing for Newcastle or loan clubs.
The step, for me, from this group to first-team level is getting bigger. As it is, that jump from League One to Championship, League Two to League One, it just seems to be getting bigger.Ben Dawson
Asked if some would be loaned, Dawson said: “I’m not sure – that’s one for the manager to make a decision on.
“They’ve obviously done themselves the world of good (against Sunderland).
“The step, for me, from this group to first-team level is getting bigger. As it is, that jump from League One to Championship, League Two to League One, it just seems to be getting bigger.
“It’s making the job a little harder for us. As staff, we just have to keep working hard and believing in what we’re doing. Fingers cross, somebody gets the opportunity and grabs hold of it.
“Ultimately, we’ve had lads who have had opportunities over the last couple of years. Whether they grab it or not is largely down to them.”
Dawson doesn’t necessarily believe a loan is the best option for all players.
“It’s catch-22,” he said. “If you go out on loan, and you’re not here and the opportunity comes up, then it’s potentially an opportunity missed.
“Some need to go down the loan route more than others. Some just need to be in that senior environment where they have an experienced 35-year-old alongside them who can teach them the little nuances about the game and how to play.
“Some just need to be around for when the opportunity pops up.”
Defender Jamie Sterry – who had a spell on loan at Crewe Alexandra last season – is keen to push for a first-team opportunity at United, though Benitez is minded to loan him out.
Reflecting on the Sunderland game, the 22-year-old said: “For me, it was good to play. I want an opportunity to play in the first team, and all I can do is give my all.
“I feel like I’m good enough, and last weekend (against Cardiff City) I felt like I could have had a chance, so it was a bit disappointing.
“But you’ve got to keep your mental strength really high, and try to be positive about it. All I can do is give 100%, and I asked to play in the game, because I want to play football and show everyone what I can do.”