NEWCASTLE United duo Conor Newton and Paul Dummett face a tough decision this summer over.
And they must decide whether to follow their heart or their head.
The 22-year-olds are out of contract at the end of this month as their deals with the Magpies expire.
They’ve played just 45 minutes between them in Newcastle’s first team, a total so small that for most other youngsters in their position, the future would be shrouded in doubt.
But Dummett and Newton have options.
It’s all down to their stint at St Mirren last season, where they were both sent on loan by Newcastle.
It was make or break for both players – and it certainly paid off.
Not only did they shine in the Scottish Premier League, they also helped the Buddies pick up silverware, beating Hearts 3-2 in the League Cup, with Newton grabbing one of the goals.
Their performances lifted their profile both north and south of the border.
Dummett, back on Tyneside for a short spell in January, ended up being drafted into the Newcastle first team for the FA Cup game against Brighton where he made his debut as a second-half substitute before returning to Paisley for the rest of the campaign.
Their success meant that rather than being consigned to football’s scrapheap, released by a Premier League team and fighting along with hundreds of other out-of-contract youngsters for a new club, they are now men in demand.
They’ve both been offered a new one-year contract by their hometown club, while St Mirren are desperate to sign them on a permanent basis. Glasgow giants Celtic have even showed an interest in them.
Which makes their next move all the more important.
Stay with the club they love, be sent on loan again –this time at a Championship club– and keep trying to impress Alan Pardew, or sever their ties completely and bid to make a career for themselves elsewhere.
Their agent, Spencer Downey, admits he still doesn’t know which way the duo will jump.
“They boys have still got their hearts at Newcastle but it’s a difficult decision,” he admitted.
“If they sign with Newcastle they’ll be looking to go into the Championship on loan.
“The thinking there is that the lads will be tested at the next level up which after playing in the SPL is the Championship.
“It’s about finding the right Championship club for them. It’s about shying away from clubs where they are just going to be squad players.
“We have to pick the right loan move and they have to get used. You can’t say to a team that they have to play, but you don’t just want them sitting on the bench.
“But they haven’t ruled out St Mirren either yet.”
It may be that one decides to stay and the other to leave, they by no means come as a package.
Dummett perhaps has the best chance of making the grade at St James’s Park. Not only has he already played for the first team, he’s a genuine left-back which don’t grow on trees.
Newton, perhaps a slightly later developer, would seem to have more players in front of him for his favoured central midfield position.
But from looking at one point like he had no future at the Magpies, the latter has shown a desire and commitment to suggest he won’t give up on his Newcastle career without a fight.
“If you look back to October, Conor was going to Gateshead on loan,” added Downey. “If he had, chances are he would have been released by Newcastle and classed as a Conference player.
“He didn’t go, went to the SPL instead and as a result of how he’s done, Newcastle have offered him a new contract.
“He thought he was on his way out of Newcastle but he has worked hard. His fitness and confidence have come on massively. It’s knowing you are a first-team player and not just hoping you’re on the bench.
“Both players aren’t obsessed by money – they just want to play football. They would love the challenge of going into the Championship, developing and having a strong year, then coming back to have a good go of getting into Newcastle.
“Their hearts are telling them to accept the challenge.”