NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has hinted that there will be no wholesale changes to his Newcastle United squad in the summer transfer window.
While change is inevitable at St. James’ Park, with four quality additions understood to be seen as a priority, head coach Howe is keen to make sure the core of the group remains unchanged, highlighting positive mentality and spirit as retainable traits.
With Newcastle’s Premier League safety looking like it will be confirmed in the coming weeks, despite nine games still remaining, attention has already turned toward the summer and transfers for most fans.
Speculation is already rife about who will leave the Howe revolution and who will help take it to the next level.
The man himself remains 100 percent focused on keeping the Magpies in the division, starting with a result this afternoon against Tottenham Hotspur. However, Howe has revealed his thoughts about his squad balance ahead of summer trading.
“We’re in discussions with a couple of players,” he said about renewing the contracts of his current crop, with the likes of Sean Longstaff and Fabian Schar understood to be close to agreeing new terms.
“We want to try and keep the main group together because, as I said, the mentality and spirit of the group is very good, I don’t want to break that up.”
On potential exits, Howe said: “I’d never stand in any player’s way if they felt their future lay elsewhere because I don’t think it’s helpful for you, them or the club. You need players that are absolutely committed.
“Now, in saying that, it has to be on the right terms for the club depending on the individual player’s position. I don’t see that from the group, I see players that want to be here and are desperately trying to stay with the group, which is a great thing for me to say.”
Two players who appear to have a bright future at Newcastle — and of whom Howe is a big fan — are Scotland youth international duo Lucas De Bolle and Elliot Anderson.
De Bolle has been a regular feature on the Magpies’ bench in recent weeks, while Anderson is lighting up League Two with Bristol Rovers.
And Howe feels like he can see something special in recent Scotland under-21 call-up De Bolle.
“I would have no hesitation if I felt they were the right selection to win the game,” he said of potentially picking the player to make his Premier League debut.
“Lucas is someone we really like and has been training with us for a long period of time. I have been very impressed with him technically.
“Watching him at the development game the other night I thought he was technically excellent. He can play various positions.
“I’d say he has things to improve but I really, really do like him and I think he has a bright future in the game.”
With Anderson the situation is slightly different.
Long held as the brightest academy product at United since the likes of Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi, Anderson was loaned out to England’s bottom tier for vital experience, under the guidance of Rovers’ manager and former magpie Joey Barton.
Howe admits that he thinks Anderson will be knocking on the door for the first team in the summer, but has called into question why he was sent so low down the football pyramid in search of games by club officials.
“(He’s) A very, very talented player with a great mindset,” said Howe.
“Elliot’s one of those people who is very driven, focused and wants to do well and achieve. He’s got a slight edge to his game as well, nothing will stand in his way to help him get on and progress. That’s why I felt the loan period was so important for him, I felt if I couldn’t give him those opportunities he needed to go out and consolidate his really good training work. He’s done that.
“I said before we wanted to try and get him slightly higher up the pyramid because his talents deserve that but the most important thing is he actually plays and Bristol Rovers have been a really good home for him and a really good fit. I hope he comes back in the summer and consolidates that good work,” said the coach.
“It’s very difficult for young players coming from the 18s to the 23s to make that jump into the first team. It’s probably one of the hardest transitions you have to make at Premier League level. That’s why the loan system is very important. If I can’t guarantee him that gametime, then definitely a loan spell will be an option again.
“I think there will be (Championship clubs interested). I was disappointed that he didn’t get that opportunity at a higher level. That’s no disrespect to Bristol Rovers because Joey (Barton) and Kevin Bond have been very good for him and allowed him to flourish and show how good he is.”
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