The likely fate of Ciaran Clark and Jamal Lewis at Newcastle United – and what it means for the club

Just over a year ago, a long-serving Newcastle United defender signed a new two-year contract at St James’s Park.
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Twelve months on, there might not even be a place in the relegation-threatened club’s squad for that player.

That player is Ciaran Clark, who signed a new deal last January after returning to the team, then managed by Steve Bruce. The contract was a reward for his “consistency, hard work and comitment”.

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Speaking at the time, Clark said: “To be back playing was the real aim for me, then the contract has followed, so I'm delighted to concentrate now on the next couple of years."

Head coach Eddie Howe, however, now has too many players following the arrivals of Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Chris Wood, Matt Targett and Dan Burn last month – and several squad members will have to drop out this week.

This isn’t the first time this has happened at Newcastle – and it won’t be the last. Jack Colback, Rolando Aarons, Henri Saivet, Achraf Lazaar and Jamie Sterry all missed out on places in Bruce’s squad in the summer of 2019.

Howe had hoped to avoid this situation by giving them the “opportunity” to go out on loan. It’s not good for the players who miss out on playing – and it’s not good for the club.

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Speaking from the club’s training camp in Saudi Arabia last week, United’s head coach said: “Obviously, I’d never leave a player in a position where they couldn’t play for us, and they’re not given the opportunity of going out on loan.

Ciaran Clark in pre-season.Ciaran Clark in pre-season.
Ciaran Clark in pre-season.

"I don’t think that’s right. We’ll try and be fair to everybody, and let them know where they stand.”

It was yesterday reported that Clark and Jamal Lewis turned down deadline day loan moves to Championship clubs Middlesbrough and Birmingham City respectively after being told they would not make the 25-man squad.

Other players, including Jeff Hendrick and Freddie Woodman, left on half-season loan deals.

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So Clark, 32, and Lewis could find themselves squeezed out at Newcastle by Dan Burn and Matt Targett respectively.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

And Clark’s 22-minute appearance in last month’s 1-0 win over Leeds United could prove to be his last in the Premier League for the club.

Clark, signed from Aston Villa in 2016 by then-manager Rafa Benitez, was an astute signing.

An underrated, left-footed centre-half, he helped the club win the Championship – and then was an influential figure as it established itself back in the Premier League.

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This season, however, has proved a challenging one, both for Clark and the team.

Clark’s dismissal against Norwich City late last year proved costly, and he was also sent off in last week’s friendly against Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia after swinging a punch at an opponent.

But some of the criticism that has come Clark’s way has been over the the top. He’s been a good player for this club, and deserves respect for the role he played in United’s renaissance during Benitez’s time on Tyneside.

The likely omission of Lewis, signed from Norwich in the summer of 2020 for £15million, is more of a surprise, though the 24-year-old could yet have a longer-term future at the club.

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But things are changing quickly at post-takeover Newcastle – and the new signings have raised the bar.

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