With all the uncertainty taking over off the pitch, it seems like a good time to look at some of the top young talents we have available to us on the pitch.
Our Academy has had a bad record of late when it’s come to players making that step up from the U-23’s to senior level, but the recent emergence of Sean Longstaff is proof that we have some capable players in our ranks.
With that in mind, here’s a look at FOUR ‘ones to watch’ from our U-23 set ahead of the upcoming 2019/20 season:
The 18-year-old striker arrived from BSC Young Boys over the summer, and his signing seemed like a coup for the club after it was reported that both Juventus and Arsenal had been watching him closely.
Before his move to England, Toure bagged 24 goals in 25 appearances for Young Boys’ U-18 side and 7 in 14 for their U-21’s at the age of 17, as well as scoring two goals on his debut for the Swiss U-17 national side.
He’s since scored 6 goals since joining our U-23 set up – including a 16-minute hat-trick in the Cup! – and just yesterday made his debut for Switzerland’s U-20’s, helping them to a 4-3 win over Austria.
His goalscoring record at youth level has been impressive and, with him having decent pace and standing 6ft 1′ at just 18, he looks to have the raw tools to become a real handful.
The 19-year-old centre-back has had a stand-out season with the U-23’s, with him being rewarded for his performances by Rafa via a place in the squad for our final-day win at Fulham.
The versatile 6ft 2′ local lad – who can also play in midfield – is strong, good in the air and no slouch on the ground, not forgetting the fact the England U-19 defender has a real eye for goal too (he scores a hat-trick for the U-23’s in February!).
After a 20-goal season in the second string, Sorensen will be a name most Newcastle fans will be very familiar with already.
He scored 11 goals in 21 games for the U-18’s over the 2017/18 season and he’s followed that impressively with 20 goals in all competitions with our U-23’s.
His disastrous loan spell at Blackpool will have been a learning curve, but he has been called up to Denmark’s U-21’s recently – and he’s not looked out of place with 2 goals in 2 games so far.
The Dane’s form continued over this summer’s Hong Kong Sevens too, with his prolific form in front of goal not only helping us win the title, but him also being named ‘player of the tournament’.
Hopefully he secure a loan move to a decent EFL side this summer and start showing that he can score goals at senior level.
Last but not least, Victor Fernandez – the diminutive Spanish winger who had shown huge promise before being hit with injuries.
The 21-year-old has featured over our last two pre-seasons, often looking bright when he’s played, but a series of injuries and operations have limited him to just ONE game for the U-23’s since August.
That said, he was spotted back in training and mixing it with the senior squad last month, suggesting he’s fit again and being looked at by Benitez.
He’s got pace to burn, close control and a touch of class about him, so I’m really hoping he can regain full fitness and start knocking on the door at first-team level once again.
A few others include Matty Longstaff, brother of Sean who looks a very tidy midfielder, and Mo Sangare – a giant holding midfielder who’s trained with the first-team and already a regular in the full Liberia national.
There’s also Dan Barlaser – a ball playing midfielder who could be set for a Championship loan move this summer after enjoying an impressive spell in League One with Accrington last season.