Earlier today, Newcastle United confirmed that Sean Longstaff has suffered knee ligament damage and will be out for the remainder of the season. The 21-year-old has majorly impressed since his Premier League debut two months ago and will undoubtedly be sorely missed by his team.
Since his emergence, he has been a mainstay in Rafa Benitez’s side, despite Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame returning from injury. He has patrolled the midfield alongside Isaac Hayden – putting in match winning performances against Manchester City, Huddersfield and Burnley.
His performances have earned him praise from fans, pundits and coaches alike with Pep Guardiola hailing the performance of Longstaff and Hayden as the reason behind his sides defeat at St James’ Park. There have been comparisons to Manchester United legend Michael Carrick as well as West Ham and England starlet Declan Rice.
Unfortunately, he picked up this devastating injury in the Magpies’ 2-0 loss to West Ham at the London Stadium this past Saturday. Here’s how the Geordie nation reacted when they found out the news this morning:
The injury leaves Newcastle with four fit first team midfielders. Remarkably, all four of them started the season ahead of him in the pecking order in Rafa Benitez’s side. To start the season as fifth choice midfielder and up as first choice by March is nothing short of extraordinary. He has kept a former England international in Jonjo Shelvey out of the squad, let alone the team.
Who will replace him? Well, with the form Isaac Hayden has shown it’s unlikely he will be dropped from the squad. It’s likely Benitez will want a creative player in there and with the form he showed before jetting off to the Asia Cup, Ki Seung-Yeung feels like the best option.
Shelvey is fit and available too. He requested to play with the Under 21 squad last Friday in a bid to get some minutes under his belt. His request was granted and he nabbed the winner in a 1-0 win for the young Magpies against Fulham U21’s.
Here’s how I would expect Benitez to line-up at the weekend when they host Everton at St James’ Park:
Schar Lascelles (C) Lejeune
Yedlin Hayden Ki Ritchie
Disagree? If you were Benitez, how would you line-up?