Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles, Yoan Gouffran and Siem de Jong all featured in Newcastle United under-21s goalless draw against West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
Karl Darlow close to first team return
With the recent news that Tim Krul will be out for the remainder of the season, Darlow’s return to football is music to Newcastle’s ears. The 25-year-old played 90 minutes of football on a wet afternoon at Whitley Park.
Lascelles, 22, partnered Lubomir Satka at the heart of the defence who have now kept a clean sheet in three consecutive matches. It took just three minutes for the pairing to be called into action, as Tahvon Campbell of West Brom headed the ball on the upright of the crossbar.
Returning to match fitness after missing the majority of the 2014/15 season, De Jong featured in attack for Newcastle under-21s. The 26-year-old almost put his side in the lead following a volley which left Alex Palmer scrambling.
Frenchman Gouffran started the game in defensive midfield, a strange choice after making an impression on Alan Pardew playing in attack for Ligue 1 side SM Caen. A lapse in concentration from the 29-year-old almost lead to the opening goal, only for Darlow to pull off a save to deny Jonathan Leko’s effort.
Newcastle first teamers impress for under-21s
De Jong, Darlow and Lascelles all impressed for Newcastle, with the latter pulling off a magnificent last ditch tackle in the closing stages to keep their clean sheet intact.
“I thought Gouff, Siem, Karl and Jamaal were top class,” Coach Peter Beardsley told NUFC.co.uk.
The under-21 manager praised Gouffran after his mistake almost cost Newcastle a goal: “Nobody’s perfect. Nobody goes through a game without giving the ball away,” says Beardlsey.
Lewis McNall made his first appearance for the under-21 side. The 16-year-old played alongside Dutch international De Jong, which no doubt boosted his confidence.
The forward has already scored 10 goals this term for the under-18s which impressed Beardsley, giving him a chance at second-string level.
McNall “did really well,” says Beardsley. “He’s done really well for the academy and hopefully he’ll do well for us.”
With a must win game against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon, you have to wonder if Steve McClaren will call on De Jong to get the Magpies firing again in the Premier League.