TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY: ‘Lack of squad depth could cost Newcastle’

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THERE is no doubt this transfer window has been a frustrating one for Newcastle United fans, but there is much to still be positive about for Magpies supporters.

Heading into the summer, it was feared a number of key members of Alan Pardew’s side would be sold, including Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Cheick Tiote, but it appears Newcastle have survived the transfer window with their squad intact.

However, it was clear in May that signings were needed to improve on last season’s sensational fifth-placed finish, including a centre-back, right-back and striker.

None of those positions have been strengthened in this window – apart from Curtis Good, the young defender – and the squad looks weaker than it did last season.

No big names may have left, but fringe players Danny Guthrie, Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best have departed and their presence will be missed this season.

Newcastle have just three senior strikers (four if you include forgotten man Xisco) on their books – Ba, Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi – meaning youngsters like Adam Campbell, Nile Ranger and Sammy Ameobi are set to be relied upon in what looks a potentially gruelling campaign for the Magpies.

Qualifying for the Europa League was a fantastic achievement last season, but Newcastle’s squad does not look strong enough to compete on all fronts.

The likes of Haris Vuckic, Shane Ferguson and James Tavernier will all be called upon, while any injuries to defenders Fabricio Coloccini or Steven Taylor could leave Newcastle in a perilous position.

Pardew has been able to strengthen in midfield, with the relatively unknown Romain Amalfitano joining from Reims along with Coventry youngster Gael Bigirimana and Ajax’s Vurnon Anita, although Anita is the only signing who looks capable of holding down a regular first-team slot straightaway.

Whether he will play regularly is open to debate, as Cabaye and Tiote look assured of their positions in the team, but the signing of Anita at least gives Newcastle depth for their Europa League campaign.

The Toon Army would have loved to see more reinforcements this summer, and saw their side linked with Mathieu Debuchy, Douglas, Andy Carroll and Luuk De Jong, but the overwhelming feeling should be one of relief that the window is set to close.

Tiote and Cabaye – one of the best midfield partnerships in the Premier League – remain in place, while Tim Krul, Coloccini, Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa, Ba and Cisse should strike fear into most teams.

Beyond that, though, there is a worrying lack of depth to Pardew’s squad.

This window has certainly not been a disaster for him, but it could and perhaps should have been so much better.

Mike Ashley has refused to splash the cash to help build on last season, but at least he hasn’t flogged any of Pardew’s best assets.

It may not have been a vintage summer in the transfer window for Newcastle United, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

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