With this in mind, I could have written about younger players like Ayoze Perez, Rolando Aarons etc but then I thought at least we have seen them play in black and white, albeit briefly in Aarons’ case. On the other hand, two more of United’s biggest hopes the the future haven’t been seen at all in Magpie colours. They are the two forgotten men of Newcastle United, 21 year old centre back, Jamaal Lascelles and 24 year old goalkeeper Karl Darlow, who have returned from their loan season at Nottingham Forest.
Signed a season ago from the Tricky Trees for an undisclosed fee which was said to be £6.5 million, the pair were immediately loaned back and forgotten about by many on Tyneside. They are both regarded as very promising players though, and as Alan Pardew used to be fond of saying, ‘It will be like two new signings.’ As for whether Ashley will be making any more fresh signings like Darlow and Lascelles this summer, you can find all the best transfer rumours here.
Before he was captured by the Magpies, a few bigger clubs had been giving Lascelles the glad eye from an early age; certainly Arsenal and Everton, with the latter even being fined £45,000 for making unauthorised contact in a bid to make a daring swoop on the youngster way back in 2010. Manchester City and Liverpool were also said to be interested too at various times. This was mostly because he is a defender who can run with the ball, pass it very well and has pace too. A kind of anti-Mike Williamson if you will. However there seems to be a consensus that he still needs a little time to refine some of the rashness of youth.
Meanwhile, the slightly older Darlow is perhaps a little further down the road and he has also attracted interest from bigger clubs too. The more mature keeper managed to hold his place in the Forest side better than Lascelles – Where the latter only made 27 appearences for Forest in all competitions, Darlow made 44 as the Tricky Trees’ first choice goalkeeper. He made 45 the season before that too and has proved himself at Championship level at the very least.
As you can see from their introduction to Newcastle video below, both seem reassuringly articulate, well behaved and boring, more Theo Walcott than Nile Ranger. However, my investigations show that Lascelles certainly seems to be very keen on the Rn’B nightclub scene as there’s more about DJs and night clubs on his Twitta than there is about football sometimes. However he was cleared of all assault charges after an alleged incident in a Derby night club over a year ago.
Though Lascelles might be slightly behind Darlow in his development, both have now reached the stages where cliches such as “lots of potential” and “one for the future” are starting to become less relevant as they should soon be one for the present. This makes it even more interesting to see how they will develop in the coming season.
You can see Darlow in action below for yourself too with some of his top five Forest saves for the below. Take the following with a pinch of salt if you wish, as I must confess I haven’t seen a great deal of Darlow apart from League Championship highlights shows and the odd cup game, but from what I have seen, though he might not rival Tim Krul in the immediate future, he seems to be a far better prospect for the club than Rob Elliot if the Flying Dutchman comes a cropper.
TOP 5: Karl Darlow Saves For Nottingham Forest
If I haven’t seen alot of Darlow, I have seen slightly less of Lascelles from the same sources, and highlights of him in action online was harder to find apart from general highlights of Forest games, but here’s both in action as Nottingham Forest eviscerated a largely second string West Ham team 5-0 in the FA Cup the season before last. It was a very good game for Darlow and he pulled off some excellent saves to keep a clean sheet in the rout.
I’ll let others who know more than myself speak for the Lascelles and Darlow from now on, and there is a common theme there. The first is from Stuart Pearce. Whatever you might think about him as a manager, he’s should to be a very good judge of a defender when he sees one. Speaking on both players, old Psycho said:
“They are both outstanding lads, without question. Their character is first-class. However, I don’t think they are ready yet to go straight into the Premier League. Both the club and the fans will have to give them time and encouragement. They are potential rather than the finished article.
“Darlow more or less played in my first-team regularly, but Lascelles not quite so much. He will require a bit more time.”
Despite his note of caution that they are like a fine Claret which has still not quite reached its perfect drinking age, he certainly seems to think more of them than Paul Dummett after he said of the latter on Radio 5 Live:
“I thought he was an average full-back, but as a centre-half… wow, he’s been awful,”
Meanwhile, Forest fan and Mirror correspondent Daniel Storey gushed the following about Toon’s forgotten two:
“As should be expected from a 6’2” central defender, Lascelles aerial presence is a real asset. He shows an impressive leap and has fended off the majority of strikers. This, in a division as physical as the Championship, has been particularly impressive. Lascelles is also strong in the challenge, making those tackles that make supporters stand up and applaud. For a defender of such a young age, he certainly gives as good as he gets physically. Despite that, this is no lump. He has pace and would prefer to play short passes into midfield rather than look long. Having been schooled not to panic under pressure and be relaxed with ball at feet, he practices what he has been preached. Finally, whilst he would prefer to play in a central area, the defender also has the temperament and stamina to operate at right-back. In that respect, comparisons with Chris Smalling may be fair.”
He also echoed Pearce’s thoughts about Lascelles not quite being the finished article yet though.
So there you have it. Overall, there are some good young prospects in the Newcastle United squad, not just the two subjects of this story but players like Perez and Aarons, as well as slightly older players like Cabella and DeJong to look forward to next season. However it is awful coaching, injuries, tactics and motivational skills from Mike Ashley’s overpromoted backroom staff which has been the real problem. Give them a really good head coach, not someone unrealistic but someone like Ronald Koeman at Southampton, or even Quique Sanchez Flores, another ‘head coach’ who will be fronting another selling club at Watford. If clubs like Southampton and even Watford can get managers of that calibre, the current situation at Newcastle is ridiculous.