Jamie Redknapp has argued that Newcastle need to do more work if they hope to be challenging for a top four spot this season, with the pundit claiming they must hold onto their best players at all costs if they hope to find success this season.
The Toon were the surprise success of last season, finishing fifth despite losing some of their best players in the summer and pushing right up until the last day for a Champions League spot.
This time around, many would be forgiven for thinking that Newcastle can't repeat their feat of the last year, but Redknapp believes it is possible; if they can hold onto their top players.
"They're close to being a top four side - but they're not quite there yet," he wrote for Sky Sports. "They've got some very good players there such as Tiote, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa, who I really like; he goes past people like they aren't there, dribbles with pace and can beat two or three players.
"But whether they can produce their best football throughout the season and whether the squad has enough strength in depth only time will tell."
Redknapp pointed to defensive weaknesses as a possible issue for Newcastle this season, but the former Liverpool and Tottenham star believes that if they survive the January transfer window unscathed, the side will once again be pushing clubs who have spent a great deal more than them on bringing in the best talent.
He explained: "The full-back area seems to be a weakness - they were talking about buying France right back Mathieu Debuchy in the summer - and I feel they're a bit short of cover beyond Coloccini and Steven Taylor at centre back.
"But they're close and they'll get closer as long as they can hold onto their good players."
Newcastle are currently tenth in the Premier League table, having collected nine points so far this season. They face a tough test at the weekend, where they face Manchester United for the second time in as many weeks and will be hoping not to repeat their loss from the first time around.
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