Newcastle United have already lined up Sven Botman replacement as deal triggered

Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle United already have a player who has proven himself in Sven Botman's absence.

In a season of unprecedented injuries for Newcastle United, the news of Sven Botman's lengthy absence has come as a surprise to very few people on Tyneside.

On Wednesday evening, the Magpies announced the Dutchman will be sidelined for six to nine months with an ACL injury. In truth, it felt inevitable when you consider everything that has fallen before.

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His knee problem, although described as a fresh injury, was initially sustained in September, and perhaps the most astonishing thing about this saga is it had taken a further two games to realise.

“I did my knee against Brentford but then played two games after that (without realising)," Botman told Sky Sports News in January. "It blew up the day after Sheffield United game and the scan showed some big damage in my knee."

Once diagnosed, the next steps were blurred. After seeking advice from multiple specialists, the choice boiled down to surgery or a non-surgical rehabilitation plan. Botman choose the latter, and Newcastle's medical team supported his decision.

And with that, Botman missed three months. He marked his return in December with a late substitute appearance against Fulham at St James' Park, much to the obvious delight of his teammates and supporters. Hindsight, of course, is a wonderful thing but fast forward another 12 weeks and Botman is back to square one. It is a decision both parties, you'd imagine, regret with the centre-back ruled out until September at the earliest.

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And judging his performance of late, it has left many people wondering if Botman had ever overcome the problem. It has been tough to watch a player who performed so brilliantly last season fall well below those high standards.

So, what now? Well, the most important matter is Botman makes a full and speedy recovery. The potential of nine months out is a devastating thought, but the 24-year-old has age on his side. He too has already vowed back to come back better.

In the words of Bruno Guimaraes, Newcastle have 10 Premier League games to save their season and secure European qualification. A fully fit Botman will be missed but in club skipper Jamaal Lascelles, United have a more than dependable back-up.

And Howe knows that too well, hence why the club recently triggered a one-year option in his contract, extending his stay at St James' Park into an 11th year. From Championship to Champions League, Lascelles has and continues to be a fantastic servant, plus a leader and role model - both on and off the pitch.

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Prior to this season, he hadn't played an awful lot under Howe but has wasted no time in developing a healthy partnership with Fabian Schar. Having proven that between September and December, Lascelles will no doubt be backed to do the same.

When the summer transfer window opens, the need for a central defender will come into sharp focus but in the meantime, it's over to you, Jamaal.

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