DAN Gosling’s been challenged to force his way into Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United team ahead of his return to Goodison Park.
Gosling joined the club two years ago after a controversial exit from Everton.
The 22-year-old turned down a new contract at the Merseyside club, and took advantage of an administrative error to leave on a free transfer.
And Gosling, should he make it on to the pitch, can expect a hostile welcome from home fans.
The England Under-21 international left Merseyside looking for regular first-team football on his return from cruciate ligament injury.
But fitness and the form of those in front of him have restricted his appearances, though Pardew – who started Gosling in both legs of the club’s Europa League qualifier against Atromitos last month – sees a role for him at the club.
“I think whenever you go back to your old club you want to do well, and I’m sure Dan will,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“I think it’s a big season for a lot of our players. I’m giving them plenty of chances and opportunities, and they need to take them.
“Some are, and some really haven’t been given the opportunity yet.
“But they will do, and hopefully they’ll take it.
“We’ve got a lot of good players, and a lot of players that still haven’t been seen at this football club.”
The injuries which have sidelined the likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Tim Krul, Cheik Tiote and Danny Simpson – “iconic players”, according to Pardew – will mean more opportunites for those on the fringes of Pardew’s side over the coming weeks, not least Gosling.
Gosling can play across the midfield, off a striker and at right-back, and his versatility could finally prove a strength this season.
“Everybody’s OK (for Everton) apart from Tim, Colo, Cheik and Danny Simpson,” said Pardew.
“But they’re four big players for us. They’re iconic players, in some respects.”