When you look at Newcastle United’s season so far there are a few obvious names that spring out; Dwight Gayle, the club’s leading goalscorer, Jonjo Shelvey, the player who can pass a ball through the eye of a needle and arguably the league’s best player and Jamaal Lascelles the young captain but there are a few players this season who have flown under the radar and we have only really noticed them when they are missing.
I wrote an article a month or so ago about the impact Isaac Hayden’s injury had on the side, whilst you rarely see Hayden on the score-sheet he plays a vital role in the starting eleven and I believe we are a poorer team for it when he is missing; Jack Colback and Mo Diame have proved over the last couple of months that they are not capable of deputising for Hayden and our form has suffered.
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Another under-the-radar player is DeAndre Yedlin who started the season as a second choice right back behind Anita but has soon made that position his own. He is the epitome of a modern day full back; pacy, likes to attack and can run up and down the length of the pitch all day long.
His opposite number, on the other flank, Paul Dummett has come in for his fair share of criticism this season for being the exact opposite to Yedlin; he offers very little, if anything, going forward, he lacks pace but he is more defensive minded. I started the season with a real bug to bear with Dummett but I have started to notice the important role he players in the side – the fact that he is rarely injured or suspended has only highlighted this – that said, left back should be a priority in the transfer window this summer if we are promoted.
When Yedlin picked up an injury a few weeks ago I thought we would be ok – we have good cover at right back with both Jesus Gamez and Vurnon Anita both able to play there but what we have seen over the last few games is the difference that Yedlin can make within a game. Anita is far from an attacking full back and when we have 2 defensive fullbacks in the side we find attaking much, much harder. Yedlin offers an outlet on the right flank, it gives Ritchie more chances and pushes the side up the field. His pace is unrivaled in this league and he has been a huge miss over the last few games.
Rafa has reported that Yedlin is close to a return following his injury and whilst I suspect the Leeds United game on Good Friday will come to soon, it is a real boost to the side to have him back for the final promotion push.
There has been a lot of talk this season, especially once promotion has become a little more likely, about who is “capable” of playing in the Premier League next season. For too many years, Newcastle United have fought relegation from the top league, succumbing twice.
Yes, we have had the season where we finished 5th under Pardew but looking at our league form over the last 15 years you have to say that was more of a blip than anything else. Whilst I have absolutely no delusions of grandeur going in to (hopefully) next season in the Premier League, I do want us to compete and to do that we do need to strengthen the side a great deal but I for one would be happy with DeAndre Yedlin as our first choice right back.