With a place in the Premier League now booked for next season, the attention of many will turn to the summer window, with Eddie Howe still firmly focused on the season’s final two matches.
But he seemed more willing to discuss the summer plans during his press conference on Thursday.
Howe confirmed that recruitment meetings are well underway on Tyneside with the aim of significantly improving the squad. While Newcastle cannot spend frivolously, Howe will be handed a very healthy budget to accomplish that goal.
The head coach said the following about the challenge that lies ahead in the next window:
“Financial Fair Play does impact what we can do in the summer but it doesn’t mean we’re totally without ambition. We’re well aware that we have to change the squad and we have to make improvements but it’s going to be a difficult balance.
“We’ve sat down and discussed the squad and I think we have a very good vision of where we want to take the team. Now the hard part comes where you have to reshape the squad, both ins and outs, and try to come back with a better squad.”
Newcastle will reportedly target four to six additions this summer. However, to bring in that many will require a significant reduction in the current squad. That is the core issue or ‘hard part’, Howe faces in reshaping his side.
The squad is just too large at the moment. There is no easy fix in paring it down to size. The only player who is out of contract is Sean Longstaff with Howe stating he remains hopeful the midfielder will sign his new contract.
Not only are there three players outside of the 25-man squad but senior players sent out on loan will return this summer. They include Freddie Woodman, Jeff Hendrick, Matty Longstaff, and Kell Watts.
While the summer should be exciting, it could be very bittersweet with some long-time servants making way. Howe added the following about the difficult decisions he faces:
“There are some difficult decisions to be made, and when you look at the numbers in the squad, we are top-heavy. We do have a lot of players, there are players that missed out on the 25.
“But as I’ve said before, when we make decisions on every individual, we try to do it in the right way. No decisions have been made as yet. For me, towards the end of the season, you get the games out of the way, then I’ll be speaking with the players.”