The Newcastle United fans are hoping to see the arrival of a new striker to the club over the summer and I would expect to see that happen, but is the future of Newcastle’s attack already at the club? In the penultimate Premier League game of the season at Stamford Bridge Newcastle finished the game with Sammy Ameobi, Nile Ranger and Kazenga Lua Lua all on the pitch. These youngsters are all clambering to prove themselves in the first team and while they will have to bide their time, could next season be their opportunity to shine?
Nile Ranger is further ahead in his progression than Lua Lua and Ameobi, having featured throughout this season’s campaign and he is more likely to be the one who pushes for a regular place on the bench next season. Lua Lua had an impressive loan spell at Brighton last season where he scored four goals in eleven games, but it was unfortunately cut short as he broke his leg. It may be that Ameobi and Lua Lua are still not ready in their development to push for the first team and would be better suited going out on loan next season. These are decisions Alan Pardew will have to make in an attempt to blend recognised first teamers and promising young players into the first team squad.
Pardew seems willing to give his young players a chance and he is clearly well aware of what they are capable of, as this quote from Pardew about his young players on NUFC blog shows, “They have been in the right environment and they are ready to step in if needed. They are coming up from a development pool that is well looked after with people like Peter Beardsley, Steve Stone, Willie Donachie and of course John Carver and myself having an input into that.” It’s too premature to say whether these young guns are going to be the future of Newcastle’s attack as they have only dipped their toes into the Premiership waters so far but there are promising signs.
What I have seen of Nile Ranger this season is encouraging in terms of his work rate, pace and movement, but he doesn’t seem to have that natural finisher’s instinct in front of goal. If he is to be a Newcastle striker of the future I think it’s something he needs to work on, but it’s not unattainable and he could have a promising future ahead at the club. I have seen very little of Ameobi and Lua Lua, other than their cameos against Chelsea, to really cast judgement on the players. However, if they continue to excel for the reserves, they will get more chances like they did at Stamford Bridge to prove themselves.
It will be interesting to see how these three attack-minded players develop over the course of next season, the activity in the summer transfer window will play a major part in whether or not they are given the opportunity to make the step up. While all Newcastle fans will be expecting and hoping to see new attackers come in to St James’ over the summer, I imagine Ranger, Lua Lua and Ameobi won’t be as keen to see new forwards joining the club as it will inevitably stunt their chances of making the first team. If they have what it takes, their time will come though and there would be nothing better than to see academy developed players making the grade.