Newcastle fans got their first glimpse of Sven Botman in person during yesterday’s 2-1 win over Athletic Club. The center-back continued his fine pre-season with another composed display in which he showed why Eddie Howe was so keen to get him on board.
Howe has some selection dilemmas ahead of the season opener against Nottingham Forest next weekend. The battle between Dan Burn and Botman to partner Fabian Schar could be the most difficult one.
Newcastle were excellent defensively against both Atalanta on Friday and Athletic Club yesterday. It seems Howe may have had his preferred backline playing against the Italians in Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Burn, and Matt Targett.
However, it could be difficult keeping Botman on the bench after what he’s shown this pre-season. It’s going to be interesting to see who lines up against Forest in six days.
Eddie Howe has been very impressed with his new defender and believes he is ready for the Premier League. Howe said the following about Botman as published in The Northern Echo after yesterday’s win over Athletic Club:
“He’s done very well during pre-season. I’d say today was a snapshot of how he’s been – very composed on the ball, an excellent distributor, short and long. I thought he defended very well.
“He was good aerially and good defending balls in behind. I thought it was a very composed display. He’s showing the characteristics of what he’ll bring to the defense.
“Is he ready? Of course he is. But there’s competition for places, and that’s now probably my biggest dilemma from the two games – trying to pick one eleven.”
Howe will have a general idea of what his preferred eleven is. Though it’s going to be very harsh on a handful of Magpies next weekend. The competition in the midfield, at center-back, and goalkeeper will be one that could go down to the wire.