The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

NEW­CAS­TLE de­serve their pro­mo­tion but ma­jor surgery is re­quired. No side that loses ten matches in a Cham­pi­onship sea­son can be con­sid­ered Premier League-ready. Matt Ritchie is proven class, Ciaran Clarke a cul­tured cen­tre-back, Jonjo Shelvey pos­sesses match­win­ning qual­ity (al­beit al­lied to a du­bi­ous workrate) and Isaac Hay­den is an emerg­ing tal­ent. But be­yond that? With the ex­cep­tion of the lethal but in­jury-prone Dwight Gayle, the Mag­pies’ squad is a mon­u­ment to medi­ocrity. Ask your­self: would any other top-flight side want Jack Col­back? Mo Di­ame? Yoan Gouf­fran? The same can­not be said for Brighton, who were forced to fend off bids for Dale Stephens, Lewis Dunk and An­thony Knock­aert last sum­mer. The Seag­ulls re­quire a tweak and a tickle to turn their ta­ble-top­pers into con­tenders. New­cas­tle need an over­haul or their re­turn to the top flight could be brief.

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