The news that Dan Gosling is close to returning to full fitness for the club after coming back from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL) will be music to Alan Pardew’s ears and a boost to a relatively small squad. Gosling has been kept out sidelined since March last year and therefore has been unable yet to make an appearance for the Magpies since he signed for them in rather acrimonious circumstances back in the summer from Everton.
Gosling look to be earmarked for a big future at former club Everton, but after taking advantage of a clause in his contract that allowed him to move for nothing unless he agreed a new contract in writing, not verbally as Everton thought they had agreed with him, unless he was offered better terms than his current deal, due to being under the age of 24, he was able to walk out for free.
It’s hard to believe Gosling is still only 20 years of age, and as yet it’s hard to pinpoint his best position. As is the way with many young players eager to impress and earn themselves a first team place, versatility can often be a player’s biggest gift and curse at that age.
Capable of playing all across midfield and at full back, former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton looked to have pulled off a transfer coup upon signing the former Plymouth man.
This current Newcastle side has performed admirably since returning to the top flight this term and if there is one weak link in their side at present, I’d have to say that it is at right back and Gosling, when he’s returned to full fitness, could find himself slotting in here.
The current custodians of the position are either James Perch or Danny Simpson. Simpson has a real drive going forward coupled with a fair amount of pace. He looks an able defender and he’ll provide Gosling’s main competition. Perch, however, has found the going tough since his move to the Premiership from Nottingham Forrest last season and at times, has looked woefully out of his depth in the top flight.
Gosling could try and challenge for a midfield berth, but the trio of Tiote, Barton and Nolan look pretty settled there to say the least this term and Gosling’s versatility may be his biggest help in grafting his way into the side when the inevitable injuries pile up the more the season progresses.
He came through 70 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly with Hibs on Wednesday night and is looking to be involved in the first team squad that will travel to bitter rivals Sunderland this coming Sunday. Gosling went onto disclose: “I will look out for the numbers on Sunday and see what the gaffer decides to do. We have another reserve game against Wigan on Monday, so I’m sure I will play some part in that.”
Receiving a bad blow such as an ACL injury at such a young age can often have terrible consequences on a player’s development, not just physically, but even mentally, as more experienced pros such as Owen Hargreaves have shown during his terribly long time on the sidelines and his difficulty in adjusting to life on the pitch thereafter.
Pardew will be hoping to get him involved bit by bit, drip-feeding him into the first-team and as long as he’s not rushed back, Newcastle could have a valuable squad player on their hands, capable of filling in roles all over the park should the occasion call for it. He’s almost like a new signing and he could save Pardew a pretty penny before the transfer window shuts.
At 20 years of age, time is obviously on his side, and after such a cruel and long lay-off, it will be interesting to see whether he’ll adjust to one of the biggest stages in the top flight, St James’ Park, and the pressure that goes with it. He always looked a decent talent when given the chance to shine in the limited opportunities afforded to him at Goodison Park and it will be interesting to see whether he can push on this term and establish himself.