The lowdown: Fresh faces
Following the appointment of Eddie Howe in November 2021, the new era at St James’ Park truly got underway under ownership group PIF in the winter transfer window as a new-look squad began to take shape.
Howe replaced Steve Bruce in the North East hot seat and the Magpies immediately saw an upturn in performances, underpinned by a tighter backline that was further bolstered by January arrivals Dan Burn, Matt Targett and Kieran Trippier.
Albeit the cornerstone of Newcastle’s resurgence was their improved defensive record, mid-season recruits Bruno Guimaraes and Chris Wood also added much-needed potency to the Toon attack and subsequently led to fewer opportunities for many squad players already in situ…
The latest: ‘Strong interest’
Taking to Twitter, Hope has shed some light on the situation surrounding three of those players who could potentially be considering their long-term futures this summer.
He stated: “Newcastle talking to Championship clubs re outgoings. Dwight Gayle has strong interest from Watford & Birmingham. Ciaran Clark Birmingham & Sheffield United. Jeff Hendrick Reading. #nufc”
Only signed as a free agent on a four-year deal in 2020, 74-cap Republic of Ireland international Hendrick – who was branded ‘tenacious’ by journalist Ciaran Kelly upon arriving at the club – has only made 27 appearances for the club since arriving from Burnley.
The verdict: Go, go, go
Having only made a combined 27 outings last season, none of the aforementioned trio would be a significant loss to the Newcastle ranks at this time and there is little chance of anyone standing in the way of these suggested departures.
Instead, saving £129,000 worth of outgoing wages per week (Salary Sport) and perhaps recouping funds from sales of the surplus to requirements three, would free up room on the books and add to the coffers for Howe and Dan Ashworth to make further signings.
Still valued at £4.5million and under contract until 2024 (Transfermarkt), the club will be particularly keen to receive a healthy sum for Hendrick whether it be from the mooted Reading interest or elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Gayle and Clark especially should leave with the blessings of all having served the club with distinction at various spells during their respective six-year stints in the North East.
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