The news that Newcastle will have to play a challenging two games over the space of three days at the beginning of the forthcoming season brings home the fact that we will unquestionably have to expand our squad, both efficiently and quickly.
Fringe players look to be on their way in to the set up with the arrival of the hotly tipped Gael Bigirimana and youngster Curtis Good, along with rumours of international stars arriving in the form of Mathieu Debuchy, to name but a few.
However, Graham Carr and Pardew’s new acquisitions aren’t the only players who hold the key for squad depth in what will be Newcastle’s most demanding season in recent years. Former Lens midfielder Mehdi Abeid has challenged for a spot in the first team since his arrival last July, but failed to make a single appearance in the Premier League last season. With the calendar crammed with fixtures, Abeid could be called upon by Pardew to step up to the mark this season.
Initially brought in to play for the Reserves, the teenager impressed in pre-season training and tour of the US, gaining his full debut in the Carling Cup victory over Nottingham Forest in September. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he then had to wait until January for his next start, appearing in the FA Cup 3rd Round clash against Blackburn.
Although there was word of Pardew eager to loan Abeid out to gain more first team experience, the midfielder turned down the deals, vowing to fight for a place in first team. In an interview with the Shields Gazette, Abeid showed his determination to battle for a start, saying:
“I will keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get my chance with the first team.”
When asked about his move to Tyneside, Abeid believed that after eight years spent in the academy and reserve side of Lens his career had stagnated, and needed that he needed a “change of air”. Let us hope that he doesn’t stagnate within the English game.
It’s hard to imagine that he will fester within the reserve side at Newcastle when you look at his handful of appearances in black and white. His composure and awareness when on the ball, along with a dribbling flair to step it up a gear in tight spaces, shows why Pards believed he was good enough for the first team. Unfortunately for Abeid he has had to challenge one of the best centre midfield partnerships in the league with Cabaye and Tiote, to start for the Magpies.
The departure of Danny Guthrie opens up the door for Abeid to put his name forward as a backup option for central midfield. However, he will have to battle with the likes of Gosling, Vuckic, Amalfitano and the ever adaptable James Perch to secure second fiddle to the French- Ivory Coast pairing.
Loaning Abeid out would, in the long run, help develop the squad players we will need to progress and sustain in the top half of the Premier League.
It could be argued that Abeid should have been loaned out last season, instead of sitting in the void of reserve games and appearances on the first team bench, in order to gain the experience and fitness needed to compete this season. Looking back at his performances within the reserve side, especially his impressive brace against York, chances are Pardew will call upon Abeid to help cope with a congested opening season.
Whatever, or wherever, the midfielder’s future lies, he could prove to be yet another Frenchmen to play a vital role in Alan Pardew’s plans. Let’s get Mehdi to rumble.