The future does not look bright for Newcastle United. That much is abundantly clear as Newcastle's youngsters floundered yet again as the Magpies limped to a 2-0 victory over fourth-tier Morecambe.
Alan Pardew picked a youth-filled side for the Capital One Cup second round tie at the Globe Arena with five players clocking in at 21 years of age or less.
Among those five players was 21-year-old Slovenian midfielder Haris Vuckic. Regarded as a future superstar when he signed on as a 16-year-old, Vuckic has been the subject of interest from the likes of Real Madrid during his five years on Tyneside. However, on his 16th appearance for the club, Vuckic was hauled off at half-time for a completely ineffectual performance against a team clinging on to its Football League status.
That is just an example of the failings of Newcastle's young stars. The same crop of young players were completely humiliated against Championship outfit Brighton and Hove Albion last January as the Magpies went down 2-0 in the FA Cup and it could have so easily been more.
It was looking like a similar result could be on the cards on Wednesday night as Morecambe completely outplayed their Premier League counterparts in the first half. Dan Gosling twice cleared the ball off the line while Rob Elliott was a very busy man in the Newcastle goal.
It wasn't until veteran Shola Ameobi came on in the second half that Newcastle managed to gain some sort of foothold in the tie. Even then Alan Pardew was forced to throw on the mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa with 20 minutes to go as the sides remained deadlocked. He made a difference, as you would expect against such weaker opposition, setting up both of Newcastle's goals in the last five minutes.
But Pardew should never have had to introduce either of them to the game. Simply put, a group of young players hoping to make the step up to the big time should have at least been beating their League Two opponents. Granted, Newcastle's more experienced faces didn't help much, with Yoan Gouffran and Mapou Yanga-M'biwa turning in pretty dreadful performances, but most of them were all over the place in the first half.
Out of Newcastle's current crop, only left back Paul Dummet and midfielder Sammy Ameobi appear to be anywhere near first-team standard. Perhaps some of them need loan moves or maybe some are just not good enough but Newcastle cannot continue to have such a vast array of squad players who can't make the step up when required.
Newcastle have been drawn at home to Leeds United for the next round and while experience may have bailed the youngsters out this time, if they fail to impress again against lower league opposition then some may not survive the next transfer window.
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