Ryan Fraser has revealed that he’s “changed position” over pre-season in a bid to force his way into the 5-3-2 system looks set to stick with heading into the 2021/22 season.
With the formation featuring wing-backs over wingers, three midfielders and two up top, the former Bournemouth star admits that he’s now learning how to play as a ‘number eight.’
This is the role Miguel Almiron took up towards the end of last season and a position Fraser has played a few times over pre-season in the Paraguayan’s absence.
As a pacey winger, the 27-year-old accepts that he doesn’t fit into the formation naturally, but seems determined to adapt and overcome ahead of a big season for the Scotland international.
Here’s what he told club writer Tom Easterby in a brilliant piece for the matchday programme:
“I’ve changed position to try and fit into the system,”
“I’ve never really played midfield, but I’m trying to learn how to play (as a number) eight to try and get myself in the team, because obviously I’m a winger.
“It’s just trying to fit into the team as much as I can, going in and asking the coaches – ‘look, if you see me playing as an eight in midfield, I need to be taught it’, so they’re trying to teach me that at the minute.
“This pre-season, I’ve been playing that position and doing OK at it. It’s something I just need to keep learning.”
“It was both me and the coaches (who instigated the change).
“Obviously in this formation, I don’t really fit in the formation, in a way, but you can always fit yourself into it. So that’s what we kind of said to each other – ‘right, you see me playing here’, ‘right, let’s learn it’.
“I’ll try and get into the team. I might not start in the team but I want to be first choice if I can. I played wing-back at Bournemouth sometimes under Eddie Howe, so I’ve played there. If they want to play me ten, I’ve played ten before, but not a lot, (and) Maxi (Allan Saint-Maximin)’s going to play there. And then you’ve got eights, where there’s three, (and) more of a chance of me getting in there, so I’ll try and learn it.
“It’s one of them – a season of trying to be versatile to try and play as much as I can, and fit into the team as much as I can.”
Fraser then touched on his current fitness after a positive pre-season for the Scot, vowing to give ‘100% every single day’ to prove himself to Steve Bruce and Newcastle supporters at St James’ Park:
“I don’t want to jinx anything, but the injuries and stuff have been really good so far.
“I’ve got a lot of football in and done decent as well in the games.
“In your head, you’ve got things you want, but you never know in football – you never know what the manager thinks, if you’re in the team, if you’re not in the team, if he sees you in the team.
“All you can do is just give 100 per cent every single day, and try and play well in the pre-season games.”
“Everyone needs to fight for their position and I’ll fight for my position.
“If I’m in the team, buzzing. If not, I’ll want the team to win and I’ll do the best I can if I come on to try and affect things so we do win.
“That’s all you can do as a footballer.”
You can read Fraser’s interview in full here on NUFC.co.uk.