Who to sell, and where do they go?

Newcastle United could be about to experience a really peculiar transfer window. We have named a twenty-five man Premier League squad with four senior goalkeepers and twenty-one outfield players. It would appear to be extremely likely that some players will be targeted and that particularly in defence and midfield, there is a desire to improve the side with some proven quality. The flip side of this is that we will have to remove some players from the squad and either sell them, delist them and keep paying them or loan them out. Here I will run the rule over six players who may be in that position.

When it comes to goalkeepers it now appears inconceivable that Mark Gillespie will make a senior appearance in the league for Newcastle United, so you would presume he will be kept for numbers and then allowed to play in the under 23 side for the rest of his contract. Unless a Scottish side is particularly interested he is unlikely to move anywhere, his wages also make that somewhat unlikely. The other two goalkeepers are also probably in a strange position. Dubravka is the undisputed number one and is unlikely to be usurped in this window. However, it also seems unlikely that Woodman will be back in the first team picture at NUFC and will probably be loaned out (Bournemouth was a potential destination pre-season) to a Championship side. Karl Darlow may be in a position where he is kept until the summer as cover and then moved on as a sale.

When it comes to defenders one player who will surely be looking for pastures new is Emil Krafth. He is an international footballer and will not want to miss out on the opportunity of a World Cup so will be keen to get regular game time. A move back to mainland Europe might be a good move, this one has not worked out for him, and the finances of this deal still baffle me. He signed for free and then moved to us for five million in the same summer. The next question is what happens with the likes of Paul Dummett and Ciaran Clark. Dummett can’t stay fit for any length of time at the moment and I would think his place even as a squad player would be under threat. Norwich might want him if he can get fit for the window. Clark has been repeatedly exposed as not good enough for this level anymore. A move back to the Championship to a club looking for experience to guide other players might not be a bad move for him in the summer, Birmingham City might be interested.

The one area where it is almost impossible to work out what the club should do is midfield. Personally I would be looking to move on a number of the players who have been with us since Rafa started building a team to win the Championship. The player who may have an opportunity to move first might be Matt Ritchie, a player whose dead ball delivery is solid, when given space can still deliver decent crosses into the box but time and age have caught up with his legs for us. A voice and a fighter but not a good enough footballer.

The other players who might think this is their final chance or may already be preparing to move on are Jeff Hendrick and Isaac Hayden. Hendrick was signed and we didn’t know what he was, I don’t understand what the thinking was in how he improved our side. I can’t see many other clubs around us being interested and the wages he will be on will put off lower division teams. Therefore, most likely Jeff will be the new Henri Saivet. Hayden has been a solid if unspectacular player for the club, he will put his body on the line for the team but other sides know he isn’t good enough and pass around him.

I thought he looked good in the year we gained promotion, but if the long term aspiration is to climb the table we need an instant upgrade in midfield. A side like QPR seeking to kick on in the playoff race might be an option for him.

The other players who may be kept due to homegrown status but will be concerned are the Longstaff brothers. Sean has not shown anything like the form he did when he broke into the side under Benitez, Matty has just been recalled from loan at Aberdeen where he hasn’t been getting a game and has been getting an education into playing in midfield from Scott Brown. Both are out of contract in the summer, it may be that one is moved out of the squad on loan and both move on for nothing in the summer.

Finally in terms of attacking options the player who we all presumed would probably drop back down a division is Dwight Gayle. I still think he would get ten to fifteen goals at that level, but it is worth considering who would want him and could afford him at that level. Fulham have Mitrovic and Bournemouth would probably not want to take him permanently. If a new striker does come in thougha six-month loan deal out would be attractive.

STEPHEN ORD    @smord84