Matt Ritchie, Ciaran Clark, Karl Darlow, Isaac Hayden and Dwight Gayle have found opportunities hard to come by under Eddie Howe, and their time at St James’ Park could be coming to an end.
How have these five players fared at Newcastle this season?
Ritchie made 18 league appearances for the Magpies, but only two of those came after Christmas as Matt Targett replaced him at left-back.
Meanwhile, Clark has not played for the team since January after being left off the squad list for the second half of the season, and Darlow has had to watch from the sidelines as Martin Dubravka has re-established himself as the side’s No. 1.
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What has Downie said about the five fringe players at Newcastle?
The quintet, who earn £197,000-a-week between them, have been starved of first-team chances, and Downie thinks they could all leave Newcastle in the coming months.
He told GIVEMESPORT: “They’ve been great servants to the club, but I do think, like any club, they need to move on. And I would expect most or all of those guys to leave in the summer.”
Do any of the five players have a future at Newcastle?
Given that Clark was left off the squad list for the second half of the season, it appears pretty clear that there is no way back for him, while Darlow and Gayle would probably be better off looking for moves elsewhere as well.
There could still be a glimmer of hope for Ritchie and Hayden, though. Targett only joined from Aston Villa on loan, and it is not guaranteed that he will return to St James’ Park next season. Given that Ritchie can cover this position, plus also play higher up the pitch or even on the right wing, Howe may feel it would be wise to keep him at the club as a utility player.
As for Hayden, it is difficult to tell whether he figures in Howe’s plans or not due to how long he has been out for through injury.
During the first part of the season, he featured regularly, and rarely let the side down. Since he has gone out of the team, Joelinton, Joe Willock and Jonjo Shelvey have kicked on, while Bruno Guimaraes has also come in and looked right at home.
Therefore, it will be difficult for Hayden to win his place back, but he may still be optimistic that with a full pre-season under his belt he could force his way back into the side at some point.