Steve Bruce must chop Newcastle United squad down to size as Premier League deadline looms
United have an over-inflated first-team player pool at present and the departures of some is a must.
In total Bruce has 30 players to trim down to 25 when the transfer window finally closes on United and the rest of the Premier League in the first week of October. And that’s without the two loan additions Bruce has earmarked for his group.
So who will make the cut and what big decisions does Bruce have to make? Here our Newcastle United writer Liam Kennedy takes a look at the 30 players in the mix – and highlights those most at risk of Bruce’s Premier League axe.
The definite ‘INS’ (18)
Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow, Mark Gillespie, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, Javier Manquillo, Jamal Lewis, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Jeff Hendrick, Sean Longstaff, Ryan Fraser, Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson, Andy Carroll
This group virtually picks itself.
Five new signings all come into the mix with 13 of last season’s group, including influential figures such as Jamaal Lascelles, Allan Saint-Maximin, Martin Dubravka and Miguel Almiron.
New contracts for Karl Darlow, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Javier Manquillo and Andy Carroll show where their immediate future lies while a one-year option tied United’s best defender Federico Fernandez down until next summer, at least.
Next in line for a new deal could well be Ciaran Clark, while Sean Longstaff must prove he is worth an extension this season.
Not safe, but unlikely to leave (4)
Joelinton, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Emil Krafth
Brazilian striker Joelinton has done little to prove he is worth even a quarter of his transfer fee since arriving from the Bundesliga – and for that reason he must be a player Bruce would sacrifice, if an offer came in.
Even if the club were approached with a loan deal it may make sense, allowing some space in the squad for a further loan arrival.
Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie are two players who may well stay but may find their futures lie elsewhere by the end of the campaign. Gayle is in his final year while Ritchie has been subject to interest from former club Bournemouth this summer and seemingly had his head turned. The former Scotland international is no longer now an automatic select in the United XI – that’s never been the case during his time on Tyneside.
Injury could keep Gayle at SJP and it may mean the option of omitting him from the 25 could come up in conversations, but with a November return pencilled in the player will likely be keen to be involved. With a striker on the agenda, this is a big call for Bruce to make.
Emil Krafth is probably likely to stay on Tyneside this window but he’s another who has been poor when called upon by Bruce.
At risk (5)
Fabian Schar, DeAndre Yedlin, Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu, Dan Barlaser
IF all of the above get the nod in the 25-man squad that leaves just three spots available for this five. And let’s be realistic, with Bruce wanting another two players in on loan, it might be the case that only one of this quintet gets a chance to stay this season.
Fabian Schar has been offered around as part of deals but injury could thwart any exit. The club do have an option to extend his contract, though, in order to retain value and lessening the haste at which he may need to exit.
Jacob Murphy has edged ahead of Christian Atsu this summer and is another with a solid chance but with suitors waiting could again be sacrificed.
DeAndre Yedlin and Atsu’s days are done, while Dan Barlaser could well see his late development, at 23, go against him. The impressive midfielder is struggling to make the cut.
The definite ‘OUTS’ (3)
Henri Saivet, Rolando Aarons, Achraf Lazaar
This trio find themselves in the final year of their Newcastle United contracts – and it is definitely the end of the road for Saivet, Aarons and Lazaar.
Getting rid of the threesome is a whole different ball game, mind.
The youngsters – outside the group
In the current squad Newcastle United have two players who do not need to be named inside of the 25-man squad due to their age – Matty Longstaff and Dan Langley.
Longstaff is currently out injured but is expected to have a big impact this season, if given the chance by Bruce.
Langley is effectively the fourth choice keeper at United and is filling in as third while Martin Dubravka continues to recover from injury.
Around the fringes of that are the likes of under-23 skipper Jack Young, who looks to be the next cab off the academy ranks, defender Lewis Cass and also forgotten frontman Elias Sorensen.
Loan rangers – the fringe five
Bruce has already started trimming in recent weeks with Yoshinori Muto told his future lay elsewhere, sent on loan to Eibar, while Florian Lejeune, struggling to get close to the team with all defenders fit was loaned back to La Liga with Alaves.
While Frenchman Lejeune may live to fight another day in black and white, it would be a shock it Muto fell into that same category.
Freddie Woodman penned a new deal then went back out to Swansea in the Championship while Kelland Watts (Plymouth Argyle) and Tom Allan (Accrington Stanley) will also be assessed on their return.