How Newcastle United Would Lineup With Jozo Simunovic In The Team
Newcastle’s interest in Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic could pick up the pace very soon and could lead to a firm offer at Parkhead. Rafa Benitez needs to strengthen his defensive options, but who is he looking to usurp in the short term is open to debate; Jamaal Lascelles being club captain last year and Ciaran Clark outplaying him at the back.
The Croatia under-21 international has been at Celtic for two years, gradually developing into a fine centre-back. His 49 appearances for the Glasgow giants has included 6 games in Europe and it’s in these games that he gained some admirable reputation. He looks particularly comfortable against a better quality of opposition and is seen by Benitez as someone who can help Newcastle’s ascent back up the English ranks.
Whatever happens elsewhere in the squad, it is highly unlikely that Rafa will join the current trend (and that’s what it is) of using a back three. A flat four will be used, possibly with the following personnel:
Deandre Yedlin (Right-Back)
Of the two players who fought it out over the course of last season for the right-back position, it looks as though the American will be the one to keep his place on Tyneside. Vurnon Anita could leave the club in the coming weeks and Yedlin will start the season as first-choice.
Jozo Simunovic (Centre-Back)
Should the Croatian start the season in this position, it would mean Jamaal moving to the bench, though it seems slightly cruel. Chancel Mbemba, also comfortable on this side, ended the season in fine style and would add more competition but Simunovic could be happy to move across to cover Clark as well.
Ciaran Clark (Centre-Back)
The Irish defender had an excellent season in the Championship and, along with Shelvey, Ritchie, and Gayle, was one of the major reasons why Newcastle won the division. He should be allowed to start the season in the first XI and being left-footed, he’d add some nice balance to the back four.
Paul Dummett (Left-Back)
The Wales international has his critics, but rarely lets Newcastle down and has played more minutes than anyone else under Rafa Benitez which is quite a pat on the back for the Geordie lad. Once again, new players may be sought for this position but Dummett at the very least will be a regular part of the Newcastle squad.