Considering our recent relegation, there are a lot of reasons for Newcastle fans to be cheerful ahead of next season: Rafa’s at the helm, apparently with money to spend, and we’re seemingly in no position to let first team players go on the cheap.
Inevitably some of the current crop will leave – players such as Sissoko, Janmaat, and Wijnaldum are expected to be among the main movers – but what’s left is enough to fill fans with a bit of confidence that we’ll make a decent fist of coming straight back up.
Discounting some of the more likely ones to depart from Tyneside, here’s how the team should line up for the coming Championship season. Obviously this doesn’t include any potential new signings that could come in before the end of the transfer window on 31st August.
Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow
Chosen because he’s the more likely of the three current keepers to be fit at the start of the season, Darlow also deserves the nod for his displays towards the back end of the season. Given Krul’s contract situation – his deal runs out next summer – he could be one of the ones we move on in order to avoid losing him on a free next year.
Darlow has more than proven his worth as a Premier League keeper and deserves a decent run in the first team. He’s also got the benefit of a few years’ Championship experience with Forest. Elliot will be unlucky to lose his spot, but seeing as he’s not likely to be fit for the start of the season it’ll be difficult to shift Darlow once we get under way.
Left back: Massadio Haidara
If he’s fit, Haidara has to be first choice at left back. That’s an ‘if’ the size of Mike Ashley though given his injury record over the past few years. Haidara has been chosen over Dummett due to the fact he’s more comfortable on the ball and doesn’t try and boot it the length of the field every time he gets it, two pretty handy abilities. Dummett is a more than capable deputy though.
Central defence: Jamaal Lascelles
Lascelles got a lot of praise for his performances towards the end of the season, when he was brought in out of necessity having barely featured since moving from Nottingham Forest. Worryingly he’s likely to be the club’s oldest centre-half season if the expected departure of club captain Fabricio Coloccini goes through. At 22, that’s a lot of expectation to carry on your shoulders. Unlike the rest of the defence though he does have experience of playing in the division which is a reassurance. Plus his partnership with Mbemba means these two are likely to be our first choice no matter who comes in over the summer.
Central defence: Chancel Mbemba
Mobile and with an uncanny ability to tackle oncoming players by simply standing on the ball, Mbemba has emerged as one of the club’s best signings over the past few seasons. Not that he exactly had much competition, but he was arguably the club’s best performing outfield player last year as well. He only committed 21 fouls during his 33 appearances, which is impressive for a defender, as well as leading the club’s interception stats with 96 across those games. Fingers crossed we can keep hold of him as several foreign clubs are rumoured to be sniffing around.
Right back: Kevin Mbabu
As current first choice right back Janmaat is rumoured to be on his way out this summer Mbabu makes the cut as again he’s more likely to be here once the season kicks off. That’s no bad thing though if his five first team appearances are anything to go by. Having shackled Chelsea’s Pedro on his debut despite playing on the left, he then put in several committed displays before succumbing to injury. Again there are questions around about whether or not he’ll manage to stay fit long enough to have a run in the team.
Click ‘2’ to view which midfielders we believe should line-up for Newcastle next season
Left midfield: Rolando Aarons