Forget ex-Leeds United starlet - Newcastle United's solution to problem position is right in front of them

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Newcastle United already have a solution to a problem position ahead of the summer transfer window

Newcastle United are a club trying to get somewhere in a hurry - only to be tied down by the shackles of financial restrictions and regulations.

After years of ambition and investment being conspicuous by their absence under former owner Mike Ashley, the controversial arrival of a new Saudi-led ownership was believed to have heralded the return of hope and belief - two emotions that are at the heart of every supporter’s being. Within months of the new owners taking the keys at St. James’ Park, multi-million pound deals had been secured for the likes of Kieran Trippier and Bruno Guimaraes as Eddie Howe helped transform Newcastle from relegation certainties to top-half challengers by the time the season had come to a close.

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The upward trajectory continued as Sven Botman, Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon all came in and the side that were battling to avoid the Championship suddenly found themselves in the Champions League, mixing it with the likes of AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund. Of course, as you will know, their stay at European football’s top table proved to a short one - but progress, remarkable progress, had been made.

But what lies ahead? Can Newcastle free themselves of the shackles of profit and sustainability regulations by growing their own income after all levels of the club were stripped to the core under their previous owner? Will they be able to continue enhancing Howe’s squad in a bid to become regular challengers for major honours and make European football an annual event, rather than a one-off occurrence? The upcoming summer transfer window may well give us a hint of how the Magpies’ long-term future may look.

Newcastle are believed to have briefed agents they are open to strengthening in all areas of the pitch - although there is a focus on boosting their options at centre-back and forward areas. The events of the last two weeks may well have eased the need to acquire a new left-back, as the club were rewarded for showing a more patient approach with one signing that provoked much debate last summer.

There were some questions asked when they Magpies agreed to take Chelsea prospect Lewis Hall on a season-long loan with a £28m permanent deal to follow if certain criteria were met. That permanent switch has now been concluded - although Hall has taken his time to convince anyone that he can become the long-term solution to a longstanding shortcoming within the United squad. Dan Burn, naturally a centre-back, has been a stalwart on the left-hand side of Howe’s back four - although the likes of Kieran Trippier and Tino Livramento have also featured at left-back during the season and links with Ipswich Town star Leif Davis are not without foundation.

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Hall’s outings, until recently, were scarce, as the Magpies coaching staff considered the England Under-21 international to be a long-term project, with hard work on the training pitch required to improve some shortcomings in his game. Although comfort on the ball and joining in with attacking moves were obvious strengths, Hall was viewed as a work-in-progress in defensive situations and has been the subject of intense work on the training ground.

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The fruits of such labour are starting to show and although impressive displays against relegation battlers Sheffield United and Burnley are not the barometer to judge such progress, they are a course for optimism of the cautious variety. At 19-years-old, Hall still has much to learn and that will only come with further hard work on the training pitch and with more exposure to Premier League action. In his last two appearances, Hall has began to show just why there is excitement over his potential amongst the Magpies coaching staff and there are also promising signs that a productive partnership with Anthony Gordon is coming to fruition.

It is still early days for the boyhood Newcastle fan - but it would be foolish to ignore progress has been made in recent weeks and there are signs United’s left-back issue could be solved in a hurry.

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