NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has revealed he will sit down with his Newcastle United stars this week to decide their future plans — but Matt Targett looks to be a player heading for the exit.
It is certain to be a summer of transition at St James’ Park as the club’s owners and Howe get to grips with altered ambitions and expectations.
While Howe is keen to downplay any immediate talk of European qualification, for those at the top, and on the terraces, it cannot come soon enough.
What is in no doubt, though, is the aim to stay in the Premier League, Howe’s primary task when taking the role, has been binned in favor of a more progressive target.
And with that, more forward-thinking aim, change is likely in the dressing room.
While Howe will jet off on a family break in the next seven days to rest and recuperate after the stresses and strains of an arduous top flight campaign, he will not do so without sorting what comes next for his players — and for the club.
“I will be speaking to all of the players, in different ways, whether that be in face-to-face meetings or by the phone. And I will be setting out my plans for next season,” said Howe.
“Look, (the planning) it starts now, as you have to, as the Premier League moves so quickly and the competition is so strong. You have to try and be ahead of the game.
“We will try to be sensible about what we do this summer. We know it is a big time for us.”
Arab News understands the Magpies have a striker at the very top of their summer wishlist, but will look to strengthen in a number of other key areas. A central defender, another wide forward, a goalkeeper and a left-back being the most pressing departments.
And while Newcastle looked to have tied down a Premier League-ready left-back in Targett, the Aston Villa defender’s future on Tyneside is far from certain.
The January loan signing was a revelation during the rise from the foot of the Premier League to an eventual 11th-placed finish. That has led many to believe a permanent deal will soon follow.
However, it is understood the player is not 100 percent convinced about staying, with clubs down south, particularly newly-promoted Fulham keen.
When asked about Targett, Howe said: “I think it is a difficult one to give you any direction on, we will wait and see.”
Newcastle are assessing their options on the left with Atletico Madrid and Brazil defender Renan Lodi a player who has attracted admiring glances in recent months.
One saga that appears closer to conclusion is that of midfielder Sean Longstaff, whose contract comes to an end in June.
“I would anticipate it would come to a positive conclusion,” Howe said, when quizzed on talks over a new deal.
With Longstaff set to stay, others will be allowed to leave in what looks to be an increasingly-congested midfield area for Newcastle.
Isaac Hayden, left out of the 25-man Premier League squad from January onwards due to injury, has hinted at a summer exit via an emotional social media post.
On Twitter, he said: “Another season completed. Started poorly, ended on fire. Takeover tick, future is bright for this great club. Personally my toughest in pro football but everything happens for a reason. Thank you for your incredible support this season and over the last 6 years.”
Tough-tackling Hayden is a popular player with the United fanbase and has been with the club since the English Championship title-winning season of 2016/17.