Following on from my original article on this topic I would like to take a look at the defence and what the future may hold for our squad in this regard.
Despite our strength in the first choice back four this season, some see this department as the one we are lightweight in squad-wise and I would have to agree.
The good news is that we will more than likely sign a defender if not a couple come the summer but with that comes apprehension surrounding a few currently on the books, an apprehension that is boosted further with our recent spate of injuries in the defensive positions.
On that note we`ll start at right back, enter Danny Simpson. Although he has his critics I have to give credit where it is due. Ever since being substituted at Blackburn, Simpson has been playing an absolute blinder for us by his own standards and hopefully he keeps it up.
His strongest asset is definitely his ability to support wingers in attack but statistically he is also rated as one of the best defenders in the league this season, doing a good job on the flank not as well aided by the defensive work of our winger given Gabriel Obertan who likes to stay a bit further up the pitch for counter attacks.
It`s a tricky one to be honest. He is still only 24 and can at times look a very good player but in terms of a future, I’m not convinced. The main reason for this would be the still unsigned new contract. I guess we will see soon enough as Alan Pardew has made it very clear that it is sign or be sold in January.
Next up Ryan Taylor, who has to be given respect for the job he has done out of position. As frustrated as I was after Manchester City I thought he came in for some unwarranted abuse given he has probably won us at least two games this season and been part of one of the best defences in the league.
No doubt Jonas Gutierrez has helped a lot in a defensive sense but fair play to Ryan, he has given us everything and not complained once, even when he was the forgotten man on the sidelines. That said, I think when it comes to a long term future at Newcastle he is another player with an uncertain one.
At 27 he has probably peaked in terms of ability. Granted he is not one on big wages or the type who seems to be motivated by money rather than football, but based on his age and the fact he will want to be playing first team football now I can’t see him having a long term future with Newcastle.
That brings us to Davide Santon. Yet to get his opportunity but a definite first-teamer of the future, Santon is an extremely talented young player with a bright future, hopefully on Tyneside. Questions have been asked as regards his absence from the first team but it is hard to change a winning side.
Some would argue he should have come on as a sub in a couple of recent games and I agree, but I would put that more down to Pardew not wanting to take the risk with an attacking full back while we were on the back foot rather than Santon not being good enough yet.
The lads potential is clear as day in my opinion and it is only a matter of time before he forces his way into the first team. Whether that be on the right or left remains to be seen but I would expect him to break into the side over the coming months and be here for the foreseeable future.
As far as youth prospects go in this position there are only a couple showing promise to my knowledge, James Tavernier and Patrick Nzuzi. From what I can tell though Pardew probably sees them as either too inexperienced or simply not good enough to make the step up. In Tavernier’s case I think he has a future but may be earmarked for a future back up at centre back.
The reason I think this, we have been linked with a couple of young right backs in Cyrus Christie and Nathaniel Clyne, two rumours which do have substance to them. Both have been scouted on numerous occasions and I would fully expect a bid for one come the summer.
This could also be a contingency plan for even sooner than that though given that Danny Simpson may be sold in January, leaving the door wide open for Santon to slot in at right back and a promising young talent such as the two above to become understudy to him.
To be honest I like the sound of that even though Simpson has impressed me lately. It is a tricky business keeping a squad happy and with both Santon and Simpson at the club it’s only a matter of time before whoever is getting left out becomes a problem.
Given Simpson’s stall and the boards unwillingness to budge I think his days are numbered and the future of right back is definitely Davide Santon with a promising young talent such as the two mentioned above as back up. I really can’t see Ryan Taylor going back to being a bench warmer.
What do you reckon?