As the players return from the offseason, these competitions will be fun to track during the preseason for Newcastle United.
Yesterday, the Newcastle United players arrived at the club’s facility to go through medical checks and get into the preseason program. While there is no manager currently and there will almost surely be additional players added and subtracted, competition will be widespread in the Newcastle United squad. Here are some of the most interesting positional battles to watch.
Projected depth chart: Longstaff, Shelvey, Hayden, Ki, Colback, Saivet
As Durim wrote last week, there will be an interesting competition in the Newcastle United midfield. Manchester United-linked Sean Longstaff emerged as a potential star last season before suffering a season-ending injury. He is almost a lock to start if fully healthy. Opposite him, will Jonjo Shelvey finally turn his talent into production at St. James’ Park? Could Ki re-establish himself as a first-choice player after injuries and international duty derailed his 2018-19 season?
The other three players here might actually be the most intriguing. Isaac Hayden started a good portion of last season, but he has wanted a move away from the club for a year now. But, there has not been a significant link to a transfer yet and the team reportedly wants to find a replacement before selling him. Hayden will surely be in the mix to start if he’s around. Henri Saivet and Jack Colback are both back from loans last season. Both were well out of Rafa Benitez’s favor and they could find a rebirth with the Magpies now that he is gone. The two central midfielders played significant roles away from the club and may keep that momentum going and battle for a rotation spot.
Projected depth chart: Gayle, Joselu, Muto
The loss of Salomon Rondon leaves Newcastle United with a lack of proven Premier League success up top. In almost the same amount of matches in the EPL and Championship, Dwight Gayle has nearly tripled his 21 EPL goals in the second division with 59. Joselu has been a disaster ever since he arrived at the club and Yoshinori Muto had one good half last season, scoring against Manchester United.
But, this is the current reality at the club unless they add a player (PLEASE ADD A PLAYER). This job is definitely Gayle’s to lose. He has good pace and is coming off a 24-goal season with West Brom in the Championship. But, could Joselu or Muto really impress the new manager? Anything is possible and this will be a crucial position for Newcastle United’s safety in 2019-20.
Projected depth chart: Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Fernandez, Clark
This one will really depend on the new manager’s formation preference, but it will be a battle no matter what. Newcastle United have five starting-caliber central defenders in Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, and Fabian Schar. If the new preferred formation includes only two centre backs, that leaves three top players on the bench.
Schar is a lock here. He was the EPL Newcomer of the Year according to ESPN and played well on both sides of the ball. Lascelles has been the Magpies’ captain, but his form was shaky at times last season and he is injury-prone. Speaking of injuries, Florian Lejeune’s recovering from his second major knee injury in 12 months. His skill is undoubted, but his health is quite the opposite. Fernandez was really solid to start the season, but his form dipped and he also battled injuries. Clark is an above-average option that can step up when needed.