Newcastle United have suffered an injury setback ahead of the weekend’s visit to Swansea City. The Chronicle report that Chancel Mbemba was forced off during DR Congo’s draw with Tunisia. Although the extent of the injury is not known, he could be facing a number of weeks on the sidelines. DeAndre Yedlin and Florian Lejeune are both back in training, but it would still be a blow if Mbemba was to miss a sustained period of time.
The club failed to sign a left-back before the transfer window closed and that has created a problem for Rafa Benitez. Paul Dummett is currently out until November and it had been Mbemba that had been filling in, but he is also set to miss the next few weeks at least. Jesus Gamez and Massadio Haidara are options to play left-back, but neither have convinced during their time on Tyneside. This creates a real selection headache for the Magpies’ boss.
The EFL trophy has been criticised a lot since the rule change allowed Premier League U23 teams to enter, but Newcastle midfielder Liam Smith believes it is good for the development of young players. He told the Chronicle:
“You come here (Crewe), and they’ll lump balls into the box and they’ll kick, scrap and fight to get the win. More than likely they’ve got bonuses on the line. It’s their livelihoods. It changes it up from playing the same Premier League Under-23 clubs, when it’s a little bit repetitive.”
The competitive element has certainly been lost from matches between U23 teams and it no longer offers the value that reserve football used to. Although it isn’t the best experience for league clubs, the EFL trophy is great for young players and it is beneficial for Newcastle to be a part of it for the first time this season.
Shola Ameobi is a cult hero at St James’ Park and although he has moved on from the club, it is clear that Newcastle remains close to his heart. The striker helps out in the academy when he has time off from Notts County and in an interview with the Guardian, he opened up on his relationship with the Magpies’ supporters.
“It is important people understand it is not just about what the team does; it is how you do it. Ultimately, if the fans see you putting in the effort, they’ll always take you to heart. The club is bang in the centre of the city and it being a one-club town plays a big part, too. All you will see all week is Newcastle shirts. You don’t get that in many cities.”
The narrative that Newcastle supporters demand the world is an unfair one. There are a select few that expect the club to be challenging for the top six, but the majority want to see a team that tries. Ameobi understands the club and he is correct in his comments. Regardless of how the team fares this season, if they leave it all on the pitch, there will be no complaints directed their way from the stands.