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The players out of contract this summer

Updated: May 16

As we approach the end of the season, we have seven players (apart from those in the youth teams) who are coming to the end of their contracts. Most of them will most likely be on their way out whilst some may agree a new deal, let's have a look at what could happen with the seven players.

Dan Langley

Dan Langley joined National League side Gateshead on loan for the season in July but it was cut short at the start of January after twelve league appearances in a disappointing spell with Mike Williamson's outfit. He dropped down a league as he joined Spennymoor Town on loan soon afterwards and made thirteen league appearances but I would expect the academy graduate to leave the club.

Mark Gillespie

Twelve years after being released by our academy, Mark Gillespie returned to his hometown club as back-up goalkeeper in July 2020. Whilst he kept clean sheets in Carabao Cup wins over Blackburn Rovers and Morecambe before saving Ryan Taylor's kick when we beat Newport County on penalties in the next round, he hasn't played a competitive first team since then and despite Karl Darlow suffering an ankle injury in September, he was excluded from our Premier League squad for the first half of the season with Loris Karius signed as cover. He played the second half of our 5-0 mid-season friendly win away to Al-Hilal and was added back to the squad after the January transfer window as Chris Wood and Jonjo Shelvey joining Nottingham Forest (along with new arrivals Anthony Gordon and Harrison Ashby not needing to be registered) freed up two places but will almost certainly be out the door.

Whilst he'd have been happy to have been back at his boyhood club after being released as a teenager and made his first team debut, he'll also have been gutted that all of his first team appearances came in empty stadiums (unless the other three keepers all got injuries or suspensions simultaneously).

Loris Karius

Onto yet another goalkeeper, Loris Karius joined as a free agent after the summer transfer closed when Karl Darlow suffered an ankle injury. Darlow did replace him on the bench when he recovered but the German played well in the first half of our 5-0 mid-season friendly win away to Al-Hilal and in January, we took up the option to extend his short term deal until the end of the season. With Darlow joining Hull City on loan in January, Nick Pope getting sent off against Liverpool the previous weekend and Martin Dúbravka cup-tied after making the only two appearances of his unsuccessful loan spell at Manchester United in the competition, he was given his competitive debut against Erik Ten Hag's side in the Carabao Cup final and despite the 2-0 loss, he had an impressive performance, making eight saves in total.

With reports that Hull want to sign Darlow permanently and Dúbravka potentially looking to move on, I wouldn't mind keeping Karius as a back-up goalkeeper if he wants to stay but there also have been reports about him being keen to leave and move to Italy to spend more time with his girlfriend (who is expecting a baby), with AC Milan and Inter Milan having been linked with the 29 year old. If he decides to move on, I could see a new back-up goalkeeper being signed but we may also decide to promote someone from the youth teams.

Ciaran Clark

Ciaran Clark has undoubtedly been a good servant for us but fans will definitely be happy to see the back of the former Aston Villa centre-back this summer. Early on in Eddie Howe's tenure, he was part of a defence which conceded three at home to Brentford and four at home to Manchester City and was sent off nine minutes into a 1-1 draw at home to relegation rivals Norwich City and despite coming off the bench to help us to a clean sheet as we beat Leeds United 1-0, he was left out of our Premier League following the arrival of Dan Burn at the end of the January transfer window.

He went on loan to Sheffield United, where he has kept four clean sheets and scored two goals in twelve competitive games (having been out of action for three months with a hamstring injury) as they won promotion from the Championship. The 33 year old is expected to leave us but his experience could help Paul Heckingbottom's side in the Premier League or a side in the Championship next season.

Paul Dummett

Despite injuries limiting him to two competitive appearances last season, Paul Dummett signed a new one year deal towards the end of the season. This season, the former Wales international has only made one competitive appearance and struggled at centre-back in our 2-1 win at Tranmere Rovers in the Carabao Cup second round whilst even Dan Burn has been playing ahead of him at left-back (although he was set to come on in stoppage time in our recent 3-1 win over Southampton, only for the full-time whistle to stop that from happening).

Despite this, Eddie Howe has hinted that he will be staying on next season and with European football already guaranteed, UEFA rules mean that clubs need at least four "locally-trained" players (players who were at the club for at least three years at any point between the ages of 15 and 21) or have their squad size reduced. Apart from players that wouldn't need to be registered (as well as Dan Langley and Matty Longstaff, who will most likely be out the door), only Dummett and Sean Longstaff fit the criteria so he will likely need to stick around until we have enough players to fit the criteria.

Matty Longstaff

At the age of 19, Matty Longstaff burst onto the scene when he scored the only goal against Manchester United on his Premier League debut in October 2019. Despite making two appearances for England U20s the following month and netting another goal against the Red Devils in the return fixture at Old Trafford and against Rochdale in an FA Cup third round replay, things haven't went to plan for him since signing a new two year deal in August 2020. He only made five appearances in the 2020/21 season before joining Aberdeen on loan in August 2021, he was recalled early after a disappointing spell in Scotland before joining Mansfield Town on loan and scored six goals in sixteen games as they reached the League Two play-off final, only to lose 3-0 to Port Vale.

Despite his successful spell with the Nottinghamshire outfit and interest from League One side Barnsley, he opted for another spell in League Two, this time with Colchester United. He made ten appearances but his last game saw him stretchered off after suffering an ACL injury in a 1-0 win over Gillingham on Boxing Day and he has been receiving treatment at our training centre since returning to Tyneside. The midfielder is expected to leave his boyhood club this summer but if can recover from his injury quickly enough, he could have a number of EFL clubs interested in signing him for free.

Matt Ritchie

And now for the final player in the list, Matt Ritchie was a key member of our 2017 promotion winning side during his first season on Tyneside and scored winning goals against Manchester United and Manchester City under Rafael Benítez but the former Scotland international has seen his game time reduced under Eddie Howe and his only starts this season have come in cup ties away to Tranmere Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday. He has undoubtedly been a good character in the dressing room throughout his seven years here and has been taking charge of training sessions within the academy this season but it looks like he will be ready to move on this summer. The 33 year old has been linked with clubs in the EFL and Scotland but it's probably likely that he would prefer a move back down south but he is two appearances away from reaching 200 for us so hopefully, he will achieve that by the end of the season.

So that's it for players coming to the end of their contracts, I feel that five of the seven players in this article look set to leave but Loris Karius and Paul Dummett could be kept on for squad cover (whilst Dummett may well be used to help fill the "locally-trained" quota for our UEFA squad). There should also be more players leaving this summer to help reduce the wage bill to allow us to buy better quality players.

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