Alan Pardew is considering gambling on rookie defender Paul Dummett in Newcastle United’s Premier League curtain-raiser at Manchester City on Monday.
Davide Santon is out of the game with a hip problem and Pardew says Dummett – the break-out star of pre-season – is in contention for the role of taming City new-boy Jesus Navas. Jonas Gutierrez, who has shaken off a hip injury, and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are his other options.
It would be a big call for Pardew who accepts that Dummett’s youth is a mitigating factor, despite his excellent performances over the summer. The Newcastle boss has predicted that his Wales under-21 defender will make ten first-team starts this season and has assured him that he has a future at St James’ Park.
“I gave Noble, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Shelvey debuts at 16, so I have no problem with age,” he said. “In terms of where he is at and the pre-season he has had, he has put himself in real contention, but Man City away would be a tough call for him, having not made his debut for us yet.
“That’s something we’ll think about, but going forward I’d expect him to make ten first-team starts this season.
“We haven’t got (Massaido) Haidara, who has been injured most of pre-season and that’s gone under the radar. He won’t be available for the first few games, but he should resume training on Tuesday with (Loic) Remy.
“You’re either ready or you’re not, and throwing (Dummett) into the deep end sometimes works. But that’s something I’ll think about. Up against him would be Navas, who is probably the best signing of the summer. He’s a little bit special.”
Pardew is ready for Monday’s big game and insists his team are in excellent shape after being made to go through their hardest pre-season in his time at the club.
His bullish mood contrasts with the depressed air of the supporters, who have been dismayed at the lack of recruitment during a summer that has also seen the controversial return of Joe Kinnear to Newcastle.
The club’s latest set-back surrounds Darren Bent, who opted to go to Fulham despite Newcastle’s best efforts. Privately there had been early indications that St James’ Park was his preferred option, but after an unsatisfactory offer was made to Bent and Villa, it swung the transfer in Fulham’s favour.
Pardew feels that Bent took the “safe” option by moving to Craven Cottage. “It was very obvious that I thought he would do well here,” he said.
“Obviously you can’t have contact with the player, but I know Darren well enough to think we had something he was going to enjoy.
“But he has opted for Fulham and I think perhaps that is a safer option. Were the Sunderland links a factor? Possibly yes, and maybe the profile of this club. It is bigger than Fulham’s, that’s just a fact.”
Bafetimbi Gomis continues to be unsettled at Lyon, but a senior Newcastle source told the Journal that deal is all but dead. However, Pardew wants the club to recruit at least one more striker and a midfielder.
“You mustn’t bury your head in the sand about what happened last year, you must understand you had problems and if you didn’t finish very well, you have to find a solution,” he said.
“But at the same time when you finish fifth it’s very important you’re not thinking you have arrived and everything is going to be hunky-dory because obviously it wasn’t for us.
“We think there were problems in the squad last year and we need to address those. Remy is a great addition, and we aim to add to that.”