Steve McClaren's search for a new striker has been the source of much speculation since his appointment as Newcastle United head-coach less than two weeks ago.
With a large pool of attacking players reportedly on the radar of the former England manager, McClaren would instead be better off addressing what should be his primary concern; assembling a new defence.
Much has been made of his pursuit to sign the striking talents of Andy Carroll, Charlie Austin and most recently Troy Deeney, however, as the side he inherits had the second worse defensive record in the Premier League last season, the acquisition of new centre-backs should be his priority.
STRUGGLES AT THE BACK
Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson remain the only recognised senior centre-backs at the club, along with Steven Taylor, though the latter has frequently struggled with injury problems of late.
Both Coloccini and Williamson featured over 30 times for the Toon last season when they shipped in 63 goals in the Premier League, including matches where they were comprehensively beaten 4-0 and 5-0 by Southampton and Manchester City.
Apart from the sheer number of goals conceded by the pair last season, it is the manner in which some of the goals were let in that is most alarming.
Time and again basic defensive errors handed opponents a cheap goal, often brought about by a mistake made by one of the duo. The two relatively simple set-pieces let in against Leicester City immediately spring to mind, set-pieces that a competent Premier League defender should easily be able to handle yet proved troublesome for the pair.
Their disjointed partnership is a point of concern for many connected to the club who now call for replacements to be found.
POINTING THE BLAME
Although it would be unfair to place the blame entirely on the shoulders of the centre-backs, Newcastle's other defensive-minded players were the few bright lights in an otherwise bleak season for the Magpies.
Left-back Paul Dummett featured infrequently due to injury but was nevertheless an assured presence in the team along with Daryl Janmaat, who commanded well from the right-back position, becoming the club's Player of the Season in the last campaign.
Elsewhere, Jack Colback in the holding midfield role continually used his abundance of energy to chase down lost causes and win back the ball in the middle of the pitch. Thus it is just in the centre-back positions where the finger is being pointed for change.
Coloccini, widely known to desire a return back to his native Argentina, may well force his manager's hand to dip into the transfer market for a replacement should his wish be granted.
However, regardless of whether or not Newcastle agree to let their current crop of defenders go, change is needed at the back. Until that is sorted, the forwards can wait.
Newcastle fans, do you think McClaren is right to be looking at improving his frontline before he looks at his back four? Let us know what you think he should do as a priority in the comments box below.
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