Steve Bruce must recall Christian Atsu, with Newcastle United forced to turn back to one outcast when the St. James’ Park outfit resubmit their 25-man Premier League squad.
According to The Shields Gazette, the Magpies will be forced to offer one of Atsu, Henri Saivet or Achraf Lazaar a mid-season reprieve, or call up a player from the Under 23s, when they issue their readjusted teamsheet for the remainder of the term.
The trio found themselves omitted from the list when Bruce submitted his original squad for the 2020/21 campaign, but Bruce is now left in the potentially embarrassing position of returning to their services following the exit of DeAndre Yedlin to Galatasaray on Deadline Day.
Premier League clubs must name a full 25-man squad for the second half of the season and while United signed Joe Willock on loan from Arsenal, the 21-year-old will not fill the place vacated by Yedlin due to his age.
Newcastle are claimed to have left the spot vacant for the potential signing of Hamza Choudhury, though saw his proposed loan move from Leicester City collapse, despite having terms agreed and the midfielder being keen on a temporary switch to Tyneside.
Bruce is now expected to decide between Atsu, Saivet and Lazaar for the Toon’s remaining spot, despite deeming the trio all surplus to requirements last summer ahead of becoming free agents at the end of the current term.
Clubs have to issue their readjusted squads ahead of the next round of fixtures, starting this weekend when Aston Villa host Arsenal for the 12:30 kick-off on Saturday lunchtime.
Atsu and Saivet are noted to have recently been reintroduced to first-team training sessions having previously been told to work away from the senior group, while Lazaar remained at St. James’ Park after failing to see his contract terminated to secure a return to Italy last month.
But Atsu is the only answer to Newcastle’s crucial decision, as the Ghanaian forward should be able to offer far more than either of Saivet or Lazaar and will surely have felt hard done by to have missed out on a place last summer.
Atsu entered the off-season on the back of his most creative Premier League campaign in black and white, having contributed three assists, despite playing just 739 minutes all term. Only Allan Saint-Maximin (4) and Andy Carroll (4) created more goals for the Toon in 2019/20.
The Magpies have continued to be starved of creativity this season, with Callum Wilson not only the top-scorer with 10 goals but also the lead assist maker with five – Joelinton (2) is the sole additional Newcastle player to have created more than one in the top-flight.
With Willock also joining Matty Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden and Jeff Hendrick on Deadline Day, the engine room is packed to the rafters already without the potential addition of Saivet.
Saivet has never achieved anything of worth for United, either, with the 30-year-old having made the last of his mere eight first-team appearances in January 2018. The same goes for Lazaar, who has made just 10 outings for the club after being overlooked heavily since joining from Palermo for £2m in 2016.
Atsu may not feature much between now and the end of the season if the £3.5m-rated winger is chosen to make up the numbers, given Bruce’s stance in the summer. But he is sure to be a more worthwhile addition than Saivet, Lazaar or an unproven youngster in a potential relegation fight.