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NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has hinted there won’t be any major changes to his Newcastle United squad in the summer transfer window.
While change is inevitable at St. James’ Park, with four quality additions seen as a priority, Head Coach Howe is keen to ensure the core of the group remains unchanged, underscoring the positive mentality and spirit as traits to remember.
With Newcastle’s safety in the Premier League looking to be confirmed in the coming weeks, despite nine games remaining, attention has already turned to the summer and transfers for most fans.
Speculation is already rife about who will leave the Howe Revolution and who will help take it to the next level.
The man himself remains 100 per cent focused on keeping the Magpies in the division, starting with a result this afternoon against Tottenham Hotspur. However, Howe revealed his thoughts on his squad balance ahead of the summer trade.
“We’re in talks with a few players,” he said of renewing his current-generation contracts, with players like Sean Longstaff and Fabian Schar reportedly close to agreeing new terms.
“We want to try to keep the main group together because, like I said, the mentality and the spirit of the group is very good, I don’t want to break that.”
On potential exits, Howe said: “I would never stand in the way of a player if he felt his future lay elsewhere because I don’t think that’s helpful for you, for him or for the club. You need of players who are absolutely committed.
“Now saying that it has to be in the right conditions for the club depending on each player’s position. I don’t see that from the group, I see players who want to be here and are desperately trying to stay with the group. , which is a good thing to say for me.
Two players who appear to have a bright future at Newcastle – and of whom Howe is a huge fan – are Scottish international youth duo Lucas De Bolle and Elliot Anderson.
De Bolle has been a regular fixture on the bench for the Magpies in recent weeks, while Anderson is lighting up League Two with Bristol Rovers.
And Howe feels like he sees something special in recent Scotland Under-21 call-up De Bolle.
“I wouldn’t hesitate if I felt they were the right selection to win the game,” he said of possibly picking the player to make his Premier League debut.
“Lucas is someone we really like and who has been training with us for a long time. I was very impressed with him technically.
“Watching him at the development game the other night, I thought he was technically excellent. He can play in different positions.
“I would say he has things to improve, but I really, really like him and I think he has a great future in the game.”
With Anderson, the situation is slightly different.
Long regarded as the brightest academy product at United since Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi, Anderson has been loaned out to England’s lower tier for vital experience, under Rovers manager and former magpie Joey Barton.
Howe admits he thinks Anderson will be knocking on the first team’s door this summer, but wondered why he was sent so low down the football pyramid in search of matches by club officials.
“(He’s) a very, very talented player with a great mindset,” Howe said.
“Elliot is one of those people who is very motivated, focused and wants to do well and succeed. He also has a slight advantage in his game, nothing will stop him from helping him to move forward and progress. That’s why I I felt the loan spell was so important to him, I thought if I couldn’t give him the opportunities he needed to come out and consolidate his very good training work, he did that.
“I said before that we wanted to try to get him a bit higher up the pyramid because his talents deserved it, but the most important thing is that he actually plays and Bristol Rovers have been a very good home for him. and a very good fit. I hope he comes back this summer and consolidates this good work,” the coach said.
“It’s very difficult for young players coming in from the 18 to 23 age group to make that leap into the first team. It’s probably one of the toughest transitions you have to make at Premier League level. “That’s why the loan system is very important. If I can’t guarantee him that playing time, then a loan will be an option again.
“I think there will be (Championship clubs interested). I was disappointed he didn’t get that opportunity at a higher level. It’s no disrespect to Bristol Rovers because Joey (Barton) and Kevin Bond have been very good to him and allowed him to grow and show how good he is.