The start of the season got off to the best possible start for Newcastle with all of their key players, apart from Jonjo Shelvey, fit and firing against Nottingham Forest, including Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin.
However, in the weeks since, they have failed to pick up a single win and have seen Saint-Maximin, Wilson and Bruno Guimaraes all require time away from the first-team squad due to injuries, and that left Eddie Howe’s squad lacking some depth, as no centre-midfielders were even named on the bench last weekend.
Caulkin believes that the lack of depth and injuries piling up could hold Newcastle back this season.
He said: “There’s not a lot on that bench to change a game. It would look a bit different if those three players were back, granted, but – and this is not a criticism – it’s just Newcastle can’t do absolutely everything all in one go in terms of transfers.
“They’ve done incredible business over two windows, £200m, and I think you put those three players back amongst the first XI or in the squad, and Newcastle’s first XI looks really good, it looks very solid, there’s a great spine there, there is creativity – perhaps not enough – but there is creativity and there are goals.
Are you worried about Newcastle's depth?
“I think once you’re beyond that, that is the concern – that Newcastle don’t yet have the resources to change games. So they’re going to be very reliant on those first 11, first 12, first 13 players, so we’ve got to hope that they stay fit for as much as possible.”
TIF Thoughts on Newcastle’s squad depth…
It’s true that Newcastle don’t have the necessary depth to be challenging for the European spots, especially if their top players are out injured. Indeed, their most-used player off the bench this season has been Jacob Murphy, who’s racked up 75 minutes and came on in every game, but has registered just one shot-creating action in the league (as per FBref).
While the bench on Saturday was a bleak sight with five defenders on it, when the current trio of injured players return, that means that players such as Sean Longstaff, Ryan Fraser and potentially Miguel Almiron or Callum Wilson could take up spots on the bench, which would provide Howe with gamechangers.
Losing the likes of Wilson and Saint-Maximin is almost expected for some parts of the season for Newcastle fans given their injury records since joining the club, however, the loss of Guimaraes will have been a huge blow given he’d started 14 of the previous 15 league games – including 11 last season and is now part of the furniture in Howe’s side.