With a little over two weeks until Newcastle will be back in action a a part of the Premier League’s “Project Restart”, Steve Bruce has been given a nice boost to his current squad.
Earlier this month it was announced that Martin Dubravka was fully fit and available if the Premier League were to resume. This was wonderful news as Dubravka, once again, was the best player for Newcastle this season. However at the time there was still some uncertainty surrounding the availability of players like Nabil Bentaleb, Danny Rose, and Valentino Lazaro, who slowly had begun to insert themselves as mainstays in the team.
Before the season ended Lazaro was starting to find his place as a winger on this team after scoring in Newcastle’s FA Cup win over West Brom, and having a solid outing as a sub in Newcastle’s win against Southampton.
Danny Rose became an every match starter at the club due to Newcastle having nobody else who could play the left back position. Although Rose had some frustrating matches, especially at the beginning of his time at Newcastle, he became a very solid piece on the left side playing his role as an almost purely defensive left back.
Nabil Bentaleb was not as impressive as advertised on the pitch. To be fair it seems as if Steve Bruce has used him in the worst possible ways thus far. He’s exclusively played alongside Sean Longstaff, who’s second season in the Premier League has been a dud. Playing two players who were out of form together is certainly an interesting tactical strategy by Steve Bruce.
The past two weeks have been welcome news for the status of two out of the three players brought in on loan for Newcastle.
Last week it was revealed that Danny Rose was in talks to extend his loan spell at Newcastle so that he could finish the season with the club. It also appears that this something Tottenham is open to as well and given the player has been in training with the team all week I would be surprised if an agreement was not reached.
This week it was reported by The Chronicle that a loan extension for Valentino Lazaro was agreed upon by both Newcastle and Inter Milan. This extension will extend Lazaro’s stay until August 1st, when Newcastle will hopefully be in the FA Cup Final (lol).
There has not been any news regarding the loan deal for Bentaleb. I would assume that he will finish out his season at Newcastle, although Schalke have been absolutely awful and could use all the help they could get right now. As it stands, Bentaleb has been in training with Newcastle since the players have returned, and Schalke have not recalled him at this time. Like Lazaro and Rose’s loans Bentaleb’s loan spell technically would expire on June 30th or July 1st if an extension is not confirmed. Most loan deals from January in various leagues have been altered so that players can finish out the season with the clubs they are loaned to, so it would be surprising if there is not some sort of extension worked out for Bentaleb.
Steve Bruce has also been handed a surprising injury boost to his squad as Paul Dummett has revealed that he is fully fit and ready to resume playing football after previously being ruled out for the season. In an interview with the club Dummett had this to say about being fit and ready to go
“With the world the way it has been, the least of everyone’s worries is someone like me trying to get recovery and rehab. So I made the most of everything and kept myself motivated with the hope that the rules will be changed, because I’m fit and raring to go.”
In that same interview Dummett detailed the rigorous physical rehabilitation he went through in order to become fit and available for selection. With Dummett’s ability to operate as a left back and center back he is going to have an opportunity to play a lot of minutes for a Newcastle squad that will have a very congested fixture list and does not have a ton of depth.
The importance of a fully fit and available squad is more important than ever as the team approaches project restart. Project restart not only will result in the team having a congested fixture list over roughly six weeks, but also the restart comes with the ability to use 5 subs per match. Everyone will have a part to play in order to keep the team fresh, and playing to the best of their ability.
Although the squad is fully fit, there are still questions to be asked of the squad’s actual depth. Whether fans like it or not, we should get all of those answers a few matches into the Premier League's restart.