Should Newcastle call-up Tom Heardman to the first-team following Aleksandar Mitrovic’s suspension?

St James Park

Newcastle United should look towards their youth to cover for Mitrovic’s absence.

Mitrovic is out for three games due to the red card he picked up against Arsenal, and it would make sense to see Steve McClaren call upon Papiss Cisse as his new starting striker.

Cisse has already scored this season, and appears to be favoured ahead of Ayoze Perez in the lone forward role. He is experienced, and has been a valuable servant to the Magpies for a number of years now, but doubts remain about his commitment to the club.

The 30-year-old seems disinterested when taking to the field, and there is a better option who McClaren could call upon sitting in Newcastle’s reserve side - Tom Heardman.

Heardman, 19, spent last season making a name for himself in the Magpies’ Under-21 side, netting 17 goals in 25 games and drawing comparisons with ex-youth graduate Andy Carroll.

He has been expected to make the step up to senior football this term, and a space in the first-team set-up has just become available.

It is hard to argue that he deserves a starting role over Cisse, having yet to make a senior appearance, but Heardman looks a much better fit for Newcastle’s current tactical set-up than the Senegalese forward.

With the lone forward system, Mitrovic has looked strong due to his ability in the air and physical presence upfront, and Cisse cannot fulfil either of those traits. He has won just 0.3 aerials per game to Mitrovic’s 1.5, and struggles to lead the line as well as the Serbian star.

Heardman may be young and inexperienced, but he is much better suited to that lone forward role than Cisse, having shown himself as an impressive all-round number nine.

The youngster has a proven goalscoring pedigree - albeit at a lower level - and his suitability for the side makes him a much better option for McClaren to call upon than Cisse.

It is likely that McClaren will name Cisse as his starting striker this weekend when the Magpies take on West Ham, but he would be unwise to leave Heardman out of his matchday squad, seeing as the young forward is a natural successor to Mitrovic.

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