When the Premier League resumes on tonight, Newcastle will have one eye on what is happening at the bottom of the table. However, they should have enough to get the five or six points required to ensure survival.
That said, there is still plenty for the team to play for and they will be looking to finish the season strongly. For many in the squad, there are doubts of their long-term futures in the black and white. The next six weeks provide an opportunity to show they deserve a place in the club’s long-term plans.
Below, we discuss five players with a point to prove.
The man with the most to prove. Joelinton is the club’s record signing and has contributed just one Premier League goal. Players can take time to find their feet in the Premier League, but more is needed from the Brazilian.
It is expected that Joelinton will start on Sunday. Bruce has praised the striker’s training level and his performances in the training matches suggest he could benefit from the new normal without supporters in the stadium.
If he is to have a long term future, he will need to perform over the coming weeks. He is running out of time to prove that he deserves to be the club’s starting striker.
Like Rose, Bentaleb will be hoping to perform well and turn his loan into a permanent transfer. A lot was expected from the midfielder following his arrival, but he has failed to impress to date.
A quick look at his defensive contribution shows the quality that he does possess. The former Tottenham player has averaged 5.6 ball recoveries per game. If he can develop this further, he could become an excellent ball-winning midfielder in the central areas.
However, his contributions on the ball have been disappointing. He was often made the wrong decision and played the team into difficult situations. This area of his game needs to improve if he is to secure a regular starting role.
This may seem harsh, given his lack of experience, but Sean Longstaff has a lot to prove over the upcoming matches. It was hoped that the club could build the team around him following his breakthrough last season. However, his performances under Bruce have been disappointing and he lost his starting place before the break.
Bruce will hope that the break has given Longstaff an opportunity to take stock and re-focus on Newcastle. There is no doubting that the speculation about his future affected him last summer, as there has been a clear drop-off on the pitch.
A contribution of a single assist in the Premier League needs to improve over the rest of the season. Longstaff has the potential to rival Jonjo Shelvey for a starting role, with more energy and tenacity to contribute in both halves of the pitch.
It is obvious to see the point that Rose has to prove. The left-back has gone from starting a Champions League final to battling for a long term deal at St James’ Park in just over a year. It has been a quick regression, but there is clearly still ability there if he can be motivated.
For Steve Bruce’s many tactical flaws, he is a manager well-liked by his players and he could have the man management ability to get the best out of the Tottenham loanee. There is obviously a good relationship between the two and given Paul Dummett’s registration status, it is key that Rose performs.
His first few performances in black and white were underwhelming, but this is a player that has been very consistent for Spurs over the past few seasons. Hopefully, there is a lot more to come.
The USA international has had an underwhelming season so far, struggling for minutes in the first team. Javier Manquillo has passed him as the first choice right-back, but the Spaniard’s contract situation could see Yedlin brought back into the fold.
Yedlin averages 1.8 ball recoveries per game, while he has contributed one goal and zero assists in attack. Although he has only played 12 times in the Premier League, therefore the sample size is small. In the previous two seasons, he has been much more effective in both halves of the pitch. The American averaged 2.9 ball recoveries per game last season. Meanwhile, he has got four assists over the past two campaigns.
His pace means that he can recover quickly and burst forward to contribute to attacks. If he can find some consistency, he can prove his long term suitability to the right-back position.