Joey Barton has questioned whether Newcastle United have the strength of character and leadership needed to win promotion this season.
The Magpies have backed manager Rafa Benitez heavily in the transfer market over the summer as they look to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
But they have endured a nightmare start to the Championship despite the raft of new arrivals, losing their opening two games, and Barton is unsure they have the right type of characters in the dressing room.
The 32-year-old was part of the Newcastle side which won promotion from the Championship in 2009–10, along with Wednesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast co-host Kevin Nolan, and he told talkSPORT: “They lack stuff that we had.
“We had a great captain and I don’t think they have got that. I’m not having a pop at Jamaal Lascelles but he is young boy, hasn’t played a lot of games and been in the trenches and won stuff, although he will probably be a good skipper and leader in time to come.
“When you look about the dressing room, for me it is a little bit milky. They have got some good players in there but there is that little bit of milkiness about them and I don’t know whether they are going to knuckle down and dig deep.
“I remember the year we got promoted we went to Leyton Orient in pre-season and got pumped 6-1. That was a blessing in disguise because some of the things that were said in the dressing room afterwards and some of the actions, some of the people that moved on afterwards, enabled us as a group to create what we created to ultimately stroll the league. But it took a lot of hard work and lot of home truths.
“Is there going to be that kind of inquest? I look around that place and think, who is going to start that? Who has got the ability or capability to get that going? And, if he does, is he on his own?
“There was five, six, seven of us and in the end you need the dressing room to be strong and you need real leadership within the group. We had that and I don’t see a Kevin Nolan in that dressing room.
“I’m not having a pop at them, I just I don’t see a leader of that quality in there and and for that reason it’s not going to be the cakewalk that I think everyone expected.”