Newcastle United journalist John Gibson doesn’t think that Joe Willock will be thrown straight into the action against West Ham United on Sunday.
Recent reports seem to suggest that Willock is on the verge of completing his move back to Tyneside after his impressive loan spell there last season.
The clubs have agreed a fee for his services and reports suggest that he has agreed personal terms with Steve Bruce’s men, so providing he passes his medical and was registered before the 12pm deadline on Friday, he will be eligible to play against the Hammers on Sunday.
Willock is thought to have completed his medical, but it remains to be seen whether he is eligible for the weekend, with no confirmation of his signing by midday.
However, Gibson, who was speaking on the latest edition of NUFC Matters, doesn’t expect him to be named in the starting lineup for the visit of the Hammers to St. James’ Park on Sunday regardless of his eligibility, because of his lack of playing time in pre-season:
“I mean, my feeling – and Newcastle have said nothing and that’s understandable at this stage – is that the best you could expect would be for him the come off the bench.
“He’s only played 48 minutes of football pre-season with Arsenal, so is he even worse off in terms of getting mileage on the clock than Saint-Maximin and Wilson and Shelvey and the other guys?
“The greatest certainty is he would never make 90 minutes because of the lack of play he’s had. The good thing is that, as I said last week, he wouldn’t have to bed in at all because he knows every single player in the team because he played with them last season.”
TIF Thoughts on John Gibson’s comments about Joe Willock and Newcastle United…
Bruce is caught in an unenviable situation here when it comes to Willock and whether or not he plays him – if, of course, the deal is done in time.
On one hand, with Willock proving last season that he worked so well with the team, it would make sense to put him out there straight away and hope that he can replicate the form that made him such a priority for them this summer.
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On the other hand, if he does throw Willock in straight away without having much of a pre-season to get his match fitness up, will he really be getting the same Willock that he had last season, or will he have to wait a little bit for him to fully catch up?
It certainly is a gamble for him whichever way you look at it, but given the fans’ clamouring for Willock, hopefully it’s a decision that’s made on footballing reasons rather than a sentimental one just to make the fans happy.