With the first game of Eddie Howe’s reign in charge of Newcastle United just a couple of hours away as they take on Brentford at St James’ Park, all eyes will be on who he selects in his starting XI as he aims to get the Tyneside club out of the Premier League relegation zone.
Taking this into account, one player who should be in the starting XI on this occasion is Joe Willock.
After making two substitute appearances in Newcastle’s league games against Crystal Palace and Chelsea last month, the 22-year-old spent the entirety of the 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion watching from the bench.
Now that Howe has taken over at the club, this could be Willock’s opportunity to prove to the new Toon boss that he has what it takes to be a crucial figure in Newcastle’s midfield moving forward. However, the 43-year-old won’t be involved today due to a positive virus test, with Jason Tindall and Graeme Jones calling the shots this afternoon.
The Magpies then secured Willock, who has been praised in the past by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta for the “special” qualities in his game, on a permanent move from the north London club on a six-year deal worth a reported fee in excess of £20m.
Although Willock, who is currently earning £80k-per-week according to Salary Sport, may not have started this season in the same goalscoring form (zero goals in 10 appearances) with which he ended 2020/21, he has still shown how capable an option he can be for the team by racking up an accurate passing average of 84% and an average of 2.8 tackles per game with 53% duels won.
With this in mind, today’s match against an off-form Brentford could be a great opportunity for Willock to get his season back on track after committing his future to the Toon, and potentially saving them from relegation if he can find his same goalscoring form from last season in the process.