Newcastle United continued their pre-season campaign with a 3-1 win over Hibernian – and there were many positives to take from the game.
These included the performance of their new record signing Joelinton, the midfield three of Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff working well together – and the performance of Rolando Aarons at left-wing-back.
Aarons was required to play in this position because, Newcastle’s first choice wing-back, Matt Ritchie was withdrawn after 11 minutes because of an injury.
This meant that the former Bristol City man had to fill in – and he played very well, providing a constant threat down the left and also supplying a beautiful cross that was buried by Jamaal Lascelles.
There are now suggestions that Aarons will be starting for Newcastle in this position for the Premier League opener against Arsenal.
The 23-year-old had played this role once before for Newcastle under Rafael Benitez – when the Toon faced Manchester City in the 2017/18 season.
Benitez sprung a surprise by playing Aarons, in his only start that season, but the winger nearly made an immediate impact as he chipped Ederson – only to see the ball cleared off the line by Nicolas Otamendi.
If Ritchie’s injury is short-term Aarons could prove to be an able stand-in for Newcastle.
He is quick and direct and would offer Newcastle a threat on the left; however, his defensive contributions are likely to be worse than Ritchie’s.
In Aarons’ career, he averages one tackle per game and 0.4 clearances per game – while Ritchie averages 1.9 tackles per game and 1.7 clearances.
Despite this, though, for a few games Aarons could fill in for Ritchie; however, any long-term problem to Ritchie and Newcastle’s lack of cover for this position will be exposed.