Whether we pull off Premier League survival or suffer relegation to the second tier, it’s fair to say that a host of big changes must be made at Newcastle United in 2022.
One issue is the state of the playing squad, with us having too many players on our books who are either past their sell-by date, way down the pecking order or unable to stay fit.
Here’s six players we believe must be moved on either in January., to create space in our 25-man squad, or next summer:
Ciaran Clark – He had been a decent servant for the club, helping us earn promotion and rarely letting us down when called upon, but he looks nowhere near good enough now. He lacks pace, presence or ability to play out from the back and has made a host of costly errors in recent weeks.
Paul Dummett – Out of contract next summer and unlikely to be given a new deal if he doesn’t prove his fitness soon. Sadly, he spends more time on the treatment table than in the team these days. He missed large chunks of last season with three different injuries and has taken half a season to recover from a reoccurring calf issue this term. Also, if Howe persists with a four-man defence, I don’t know where he fits…
Emil Krafth – He’s never looked convincing at right-back and just isn’t a centre-back, either. He finds himself behind Javier Manquillo and Jacob Murphy in the pecking order and will be even further adrift from first-team chances if Kieran Trippier arrives.
Jeff Hendrick – We’ve got too many average central midfielders, and Hendrick is bottom of the pile in that department. He doesn’t appear to be particularly good in any one area and isn’t great on the ball, making me wonder how he’d fit into Howe’s plans; even if we went down.
Dwight Gayle – Some feel he’d be worth keeping if we were relegated, but he’s always injured, is now 32 and won’t have that same turn of speed that he once had when firing us to promotion back in 2016/17. Sell and replace him with a more reliable option.
Mark Gillespie – Included in our 25-man squad yet nowhere near the first-team, with Dubravka, Darlow and Woodman all ahead of him in the pecking order. At this point, he’s being paid to train and is taking up a valuable squad spot.
The jury is out on the two Longstaff brothers, who have both gone backwards over the past 12 to 18 months, while Matt Ritchie is someone we should be moving on if we maintain our Premier League status.