Despite being criticised at times for having a small squad, one area where Newcastle United is more than comfortable is the left-back position.

Davide Santon has held the role for the last two-and-a-half years since joining from Inter Milan but now faces a fight for his first-team place as Paul Dummett emerges on the first-team scene and Massadio Haidara continues to impress in cameo roles.

Dummett has played well in the games against Hull City and Aston Villa, looking assured and confident down the left flank. He also possesses an excellent left foot, giving him added value in the team when it comes to set pieces. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is clearly a fan of the 21-year-old, as he continues with him over the slightly more experienced Haidara.

Haidara played a handful of games towards the end of last season and looked to be mounting a serious challenge for a first-team place, only for a sickening challenge from Callum McManaman to end his season prematurely.

So Santon definitely has competition, something which has given more substance to the rumours surrounding his future.

The 23-year-old is continually linked with a move back to Italy, with AC Milan mooted to be interested in almost every transfer window. But Santon is happy on Tyneside and is enjoying his life, with a young family and Geordie girlfriend.

However, Santon is currently out of the team – reportedly due to a knee injury – and faces a fight to get back into it. Pardew is unlikely to drop Dummett after two good performances and has been quoted saying the Wales under-21 man gives Newcastle another option down the left flank.

That’s because of the natural left foot. Santon has played at left-back almost his entire career despite being right footed, something which isn’t that uncommon in football. However, most right-footed left-back’s have a decent left foot and aren’t afraid to attempt to swing a cross in with their weaker side.

Santon isn’t one of these players and is very predictable when he attacks. He gets forward well but then has to cut back onto his right foot, slowing down the team’s momentum and usually providing a poor cross.

When Dummett bombs down the left, he can look to take on the opposition’s right-back and put a centre in from the byline or from deep, something which gives the likes of Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong more to feed off.

Defensively, Santon can struggle too. In the Derby against Sunderland, the Italian was berated by goalkeeper Tim Krul for not putting his body on the line to block Fabio Borini’s opening goal.

There are more examples of this; leading to some believing Santon is not only playing on the wrong flank but in the wrong position.

Right midfield could be a better option for the Italian. He would have less defensive responsibility and a chance to cross with his natural right foot. Newcastle also struggle for right-sided midfielders, so the move could materialise if Dummett gets the nod at left-back in the near future.

Santon has been deployed in defensive midfield also, although that position seems to do nothing for him. He has no attacking licence protecting the back four and has to be physically dominant at times, something which he cannot do with his slim, athletic build.

Cheick Tiote is more like the type of player you need in there, with his aggressive, powerful style.

So Pardew has decisions to make as he looks to get the best out of his young Italian and decide on his strongest XI, but one would think that the Newcastle team will have more of a British feel to it if Dummett continues to impress.