Steve Bruce looks to be grooming Newcastle’s left-back of the future

With uncertainty at left-back next season, Javier Manquillo’s recent play there could be a hint towards Newcastle’s future plan.

The last few seasons at Newcastle United saw Paul Dummett, Kenedy, and Matt Ritchie occupying the left-back position. This year, Jetro Willems held down the spot on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt before a knee injury ended his time with the Magpies. In January, as an outcast at Spurs under Jose Mourinho, Danny Rose joined the club on loan for the rest of the season. But, the last two matches, it hasn’t been the Tottenham man occupying the left side of the Newcastle defense.

Typically a starter at right-back and coming off a four-year contract extension, Javier Manquillo started on the left-side vs. Bournemouth and West Ham United with Rose as an unused player on the bench. After substituting off due to a small strain vs. the Cherries, he played the entire match against the Hammers. Previously, Manquillo only played consistently at left-back when he was covering for an injured Dummett.

He’s naturally a right-sided defender, but it could make sense for him to be the left-back of the future with uncertainty regarding the future at NUFC for Willems and Rose. The former has had positive things to say about the club but indicated recently that he won’t be back and the latter is interested in a full move, but there has not been much talk of that full move coming to fruition.

Emil Krafth, who has started back-to-back matches, and DeAndre Yedlin, who has been the first-choice player for a couple of years, are both capable at right-back, but the options on the books next season are more limited at left-back. With Manquillo playing competently there, Bruce can continue to play him there to prepare for the full-time gig next Premier League campaign.