If Rafael Benitez wanted to make a clear point to Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley about the club’s dire need for new signings, shunting Ciaran Clark across to left-back wasn’t a bad way to go about it.
You could probably count on one hand the amount of times the 27-year-old Irishman has played on the left of a back four in his decade-long career at the top level of English football.
Yet, when Paul Dummett sank to the turf less than five minutes into the new season against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, clutching his hamstring with a grimace etched across his face, Newcastle’s lack of depth became alarmingly clear.
The other left-backs at the club’s disposal, Massadio Haidara and Achraf Lazaar, were absent from the matchday squad and appear unlikely to ever feature again under the clearly unimpressed Benitez.
Newcastle have been linked with a number of left sided defenders in the transfer window, most notably Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, but there remains an alarming lack of competition, or cover, for Welsh international Dummett.
Therefore, the club may regret failing to keep Lewis Gibson at St James’ Park. The homegrown youngster may have been just 17 years of age, and without a single senior appearance under his belt, but his talent was not in question.
An ever-present as England were beaten by Spain in the final of the European Under-17 Championships this summer, Gibson was even promoted to Newcastle’s reserve team after standing out in the Under-18s last season.
However, though he still had a year on his Newcastle contract, Gibson instead chose to terminate his scholarship deal and sign for Everton in a deal that could reach up to £6 million, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.
Though completely unproven, the talented Gibson could have offered some cover for Dummett. As it is, Newcastle have been left short.