Much like last season, Newcastle United’s campaign hasn’t got off to a particularly promising start. Amid a backdrop of unrest behind the scenes, Rafa Benitez’s side are still without a win across all competitions and face the rather daunting task of playing Premier League Manchester City in their own backyard today.
Clearly, the gulf in quality between the two sides is vast and that very vista is only expanded due to the absence of Jonjo Shelvey in the Magpies’ midfield. The England international, missing through injury, is Newcastle’s only real creative spark and beyond crucial to their counter-attacking system, so being without him makes this an even bigger mountain to climb.
Still, there’s a game to be played and precious points up for grabs, so we recently asked our readers whether or not they wanted academy graduate Sean Longstaff to start in midfield today. The 20-year-old academy graduate looked fairly promising despite the Toon’s miserable Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest and may give the away side some quality on the ball going forward.
Interestingly, despite the size of the task at hand, it seems the Newcastle faithful are on board with this idea. As you can see from the results of our poll, Longstaff – who recently starred in a Newcastle U23 thrashing of bitter rivals Sunderland – has the backing of 65% of polled Geordies.
Obviously, going up against perhaps the best midfield in Europe – even without Kevin De Bruyne – will be difficult, though it seems Longstaff is gaining support on Tyneside.