Newcastle's best XI post-January - New signings critical to survival hopes as quartet axed
Newcastle United’s January signings are going to be critical to the club’s hopes of survival between the closing of the transfer window and the end of the season.
The Magpies saw three new faces through the door at St James’ Park before Wednesday’s deadline, with the trio all coming in as loan signings.
The first arrival was Chelsea winger Kenedy, while Islam Slimani and Martin Dubravka both arrived on temporary deadline day deals to round off the club’s business.
While fans may well have been hoping for more for Rafael Benitez to work with for the second half of the season, all three look set to have a major impact, and their performances could be the difference between staying in the Premier League and slipping back to the Championship.
As such, the trio should all be regulars for the starting XI when every player is fit, with the quartet Joselu, Matt Ritchie, Karl Darlow and Ciaran Clark axed in favour of Slimani, Kenedy, Dubravka and summer signing Florian Lejeune.
Benitez has been hunting a senior goalkeeper since the summer and Dubravka is the man he has gone for, so it would be expected that he is to become the first choice between now and the end of the season.
The defence have looked solid if unspectacular this campaign and although he got off to a rocky start, Lejeune has shown flashes of the technique Clark is missing from his game, while the rest of the back line should remain due to a lack of quality competition in the squad.
Anyone who watched the 1-1 draw with Burnley would have been shocked with the performance of Mohamed Diame in the centre, looking composed and powerful alongside Mikel Merino, who is evidently still suffering from his earlier injury but is still the best midfielder the club have at their disposal.
Up front, Ritchie has been poor on his return to the top flight while Kenedy was exciting to watch against the Clarets on his debut and so they should swap, leaving Perez to slot behind new hitman Slimani, who should take the place of the hard working but unreliable Joselu up top.
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