Journalist Aaron Stokes believes that Sven Botman will start on the bench this weekend for Newcastle United.
The Dutch centre-back is the Toon’s marquee arrival of the summer so far at St James’ Park, signing from Lille for £35m.
However, despite an ‘unflappable’ performance playing alongside Jamaal Lascelles on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao, Stokes is of the impression that the backline of Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn and Matt Targett – which played against Atalanta the night before – will be Eddie Howe’s preferred lineup.
Speaking on the Everything is Black and White podcast, he said: “I would love to see Botman from the start, I think it would be great if he could get him in, but I don’t know, I’ve just got a little feeling.
“If Botman had started on Friday, I would’ve thought he’d start, but I just think that back five looked really solid against Atalanta, and I think Howe knows that. But look, it’s a very, very, very good dilemma to have.”
TIF Thoughts on Botman and Newcastle…
Should Botman be starting for Newcastle?
No, not yet!
Being left-footed like Burn, it was always reasonable to think that one of those players would have to miss out, and given the Englishman’s form since arriving on Tyneside, it would be unfair to dismiss him in favour of Botman right away.
When compared to Fabian Schar and Burn, the 22-year-old actually ranks the lowest when it comes to interceptions last season as well as second behind Burn for shots blocked (as per FBref).
Botman does, however, boast a far superior pass success rate (89.1%) and considerably more progressive carries over the duration of the previous campaign, which could suggest that he is better at playing out from the back than his teammates, so it will be interesting to see who Howe decides to select come Saturday.