Newcastle United’s Battle For World Cup Squad Spots And Why They Could Have More Success In The Future

It’s been a tense few months waiting for the all-important announcement of England’s World Cup squad, but without a single Newcastle name in sight, fans of the Magpies have been left devastated. While some of the team’s star players have had better success in their own international home teams, those expected to rocket to World Cup fame have fallen short of the running much to the disappointment of the team, fans and manager alike. However, all hope is not lost! While there’s no denying that the lack of Newcastle representation in the England squad is quite the painful blow, the potential for valuable transfers alone could skyrocket the team to success in the future. Below, we’re taking a look at the players that missed out, and who we could be seeing donning the black and white shirt in the near future.

Who Was In The Running?

While it was no secret that England’s manager Gareth Southgate had his eyes on Harry Kane to fill Rooney’s retired boots as his new star player, there was still plenty of speculation around who would fill the remaining positions and whether those chosen would build a strong enough team to pull England to victory for the first time since 1966. Of course, Newcastle fans all had their own ideas as to who was going to stride onto the pitch in Russia, with Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles being high up on their lists but things don’t always go quite as expected.

Of course, there was no guarantee for either player. In the run-up to the squad announcements and throughout the Premier League, however, both Shelvey and Lascelles were certainly proving themselves as worthy choices to represent England at the World Cup.

Shelvey’s performance as Newcastle’s star midfielder alone is enough to draw attention to his skill, but there’s plenty more proof where that came from. After playing for the England squad at under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels, and then for England in 2012, this 26-year-old player seemed to be a pretty sure-fire addition for this year’s World Cup. Perhaps it was his violent conduct during the August 13th match against Tottenham that put Gareth Southgate off of adding him to the team, but whatever the case, he sorely missed out on the spot. Instead, Eric Dier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph have all been picked ahead of him in midfield.

For defender Jamaal Lascelles, the battle has been another tough one. After joining Newcastle in 2014, Lascelles has gone on to fight hard for the team and with his willingness to speak up about potential improvements to the team, even earned himself the position of team captain. With a nomination for the Premier League Player of the Month award under his belt too, you’d think he’d have secured himself a pretty good position in the World Cup Team – but the truth was far less pleasant. With Gary Cahill, John Stones, Harry Magulre and Phil Jones all beating Lascelles out to the defending position, he didn’t even place as a standby.

International Success

While Newcastle United hasn’t graced the England team with their presence, their international reach has been a little more successful this year. While we can all be thankful that their international players haven’t suffered the same fate as Obafemi Martins after his career-changing injury, it can still be a bit of a sting knowing that they won’t be representing England throughout the World Cup in Russia.

Despite this sting, however, there is still that strong sense of pride that there’s some pretty good representation out there for the Magpies on international soil. Alexander Mitrovic, in particular, has proven over and over again that he deserved his spot in the Serbian World Cup squad, after helping pull the team to qualification for the competition after a 1-0 win against Georgia in the European qualifiers. While that goal wasn’t directly scored by Mitrovic, his quick footwork was what had the ball at Aleksandar Prijovic’s feet, who went on to guide the ball straight into the net.

Matz Sels is another Newcastle offering, currently representing Belgium in the World Cup despite initial concern that his performance just wasn’t good enough. The goalkeeper certainly didn’t have a very good first season with the Newcastle team, and while sitting among three other alternatives, the potential that he was going to miss out on one of the three goalkeeping spots was one we were all biting our nails over. However, he did push through and is set to represent Belgium at Russia this year.

Of course, despite not qualifying for the World Cup games, we can’t forget to mention Ciaran Clark and Rob Elliot who represented Newcastle within the Republic of Ireland’s team. The team’s battle was a tough one during qualifications, with a pretty sturdy defensive play that just wasn’t quite enough to win. The Republic of Ireland has proven time and time again that, despite being a pretty strong team overall, they don’t quite have what they need for international football. Could this change in the future? Only time will tell.

Could There Be Hope For The Future?

The potential for Newcastle United in the future all comes down to the upcoming transfer season and whether their current players can step up their game to grab that much-needed edge over the other teams. The World Cup is always an ideal time to scout out potential transfers and with the ability to put their full attention into doing exactly that, Newcastle could easily pick up a few gems during the summer. Of course, monetary restrictions make signing the biggest and best players a bit of a struggle, but there are some dark horses still within reach.

This year’s World Cup is already proving to be one for the youngsters for a lot of teams, and Newcastle has the potential to pick up players like Tin Jedvaj, Filip Bradaric and even M’Baye Niang or Moussa Sow could give the team the leg-up it needs in coming seasons. Of course, all of this depends on the performance over the coming tournament. The younger players often hold the most potential and with Rafael Benitez claiming that Newcastle United have exactly that, a little more certainly couldn’t hurt!

Newcastle hasn’t had a completely devastating blow this season, but with minimal international representation and no home representation during the World Cup, the team can be forgiven for taking some time to nurse the sting. In the end, however, the potential for the team really is huge. With players like Mitrovic, Shelvey and Lascelles amongst the leading players in the team, a few well-planned transfers could give us that little extra push to reach World Cup success as the next season comes around in 2022.

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