There are two good things to have come out of Wales recently.
The first, as ever, any road out of the country. The second, and arguably most important to us Newcastle fans, is the news that Davide Santon came through the reserve match against Swansea last night unscathed.
Santon managed the full 90 minutes in Llanelli yesterday evening in a match which saw Peter Beardsley’s reserve team outfit beat their Welsh counterparts from Swansea 5-3. Defending was evidently not on the agenda for either side in that one. However I can report that despite conceding three goals our Italian U21 Captain had a very good game and very nearly scored, three times in fact. It’s also worth noting that he wasn’t at fault for any of the goals conceded and that pretty much nothing got past him all game. In fact his performance left Pedro positively purring as he reflected on another win for his reserve outfit.
“I thought Santon was excellent,” he told the official club website. “He very rarely gives the ball away, joins in well, he’s two footed.”
“When I look at him – and I don’t want to put people’s expectations too high – but when I look at Maldini, he plays the same way. He’s obviously nowhere near that level yet but he reminds me very much of him, the way he wants to play, the way he wants to bomb forward, and to be fair to him he’s quite happy to defend.”
Pedro continued: “He’s very clever. He’s a good footballer, there’s no doubt about it. To be a right-footed left-back, you’ve got to have confidence and he has.”
“But he’s two-footed, he’s very two-footed. I’d say possibly his right’s stronger, but overall I’d say he’s very two-footed and I think the manager’s made a good decision there to buy him.”
It’s not the first time that Santon has been compared to Paulo Maldini. Jose Mourinho once compared him to the illustrious Italian left-back whilst other notable names in football have been quick to heap praise on the youngster. Time will tell whether or not Davide can show his immense potential, but I can only think that moving to Newcastle and not having as much pressure on him will be a good thing for him.
The fact he came through 90 minutes last night and has a whole week of training behind means that he goes straight into the matchday squad for the weekend trip to Wolves. He probably won’t play from the start but I see no reason why he won’t make an appearance from the bench. Let’s face it, he can play in enough positions to warrant an inclusion on the bench. However let’s not get carried away as a space in the squad is an improvement. Here Alan Pardew confirms that Santon will travel with the team to the Midlands.
“That is probably the biggest news we have had this week, because he (Santon) has managed to get a week’s training and also play a game with that knee,” said Pardew in his pre-match press conference.
“That more or less signals to us that that problem is behind us, and therefore he will be in the squad for Saturday.”
Pardew then went on to tell us a bit more about Santon, only without the Maldini comparison.
“He’s very quick and he will want to get forward. That goes with what we have here, I have always said that I want to add some pace to the team.”
“He’s as quick as Jose Enrique, who was quick indeed, and we have Gabriel Obertan to throw into that as well on the right.”
The return to fitness of Santon will mean that the Newcastle squad almost has a clean bill of health. The only casualties of not will be Haris Vuckic, who is back in training, and Mike Williamson who is still a couple of weeks away from returning to training.
In terms of injuries, things are most certainly looking up at Newcastle right now.