Northern Echo Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson selects his North-East Team of the Season for the 2022-23 campaign.



The Northern Echo: Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick PopeNewcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope (Image: PA)

There was extremely strong competition in this category, but it’s impossible to look past Pope, who proved to be one of the buys of the summer after joining Newcastle from Burnley for just £10m. Pope’s shot-stopping skills were a key part of the Magpies’ defensive strength all season, from his Man of the Match display at Brighton in the first away game to the reflex stop from Thomas Castagne in the final seconds of the final home fixture that helped confirm a Champions League place.



The Northern Echo: Newcastle United right-back Kieran TrippierNewcastle United right-back Kieran Trippier (Image: PA)

Newcastle’s ‘Captain Fantastic’ was the heartbeat of the club’s rise into the top three. His leadership skills shone through throughout the campaign, and were perhaps best exemplified by the ‘penalty switch’ that took the pressure off Alexander Isak at Nottingham Forest. Trippier’s sublime set-piece deliveries were one of Newcastle’s key attacking assets, and his tally of seven assists puts in him the top ten players in the Premier League in any position.


The Northern Echo: Sunderland centre-half Danny BatthSunderland centre-half Danny Batth (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Batth’s arrival at the Stadium of Light on a free transfer 18 months ago might not have made many headlines, but the 32-year-old has developed into the linchpin of the Sunderland defence. Batth played in 40 league games this season, and after helping to hold things together as injuries hit hard, his own injury issue could not have come at a worse time. Perhaps the Black Cats would have been able to withstand Luton’s aerial bombardment if he had been present at Kenilworth Road in the play-offs.


The Northern Echo: Newcastle United centre-half Sven BotmanNewcastle United centre-half Sven Botman (Image: PA)

Newcastle had to be persistent to get their man, but their patience paid off as Botman’s £32m move from Lille last summer turned out to be a masterstroke. The 23-year-old has started every league game since the start of October, with his positional excellence, aerial prowess and comfort in possession enabling him to establish himself as one of the leading centre-halves in the Premier League. His partnership with Fabian Schar has formed the bedrock of Newcastle’s defensive excellence.


The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough left-back Ryan GilesMiddlesbrough left-back Ryan Giles (Image: Tom Banks)

Middlesbrough knew they were getting an attacking full-back of immense promise when they signed Giles on loan from Wolves – what they probably didn’t realise at the time is that they were also recruiting a player who could help transform their attacking play. Giles’ raids down the left flank troubled Championship defences all season, and he ended the campaign with 11 assists to his name, more than any other defender in the second tier.



The Northern Echo: Newcastle United midfielder Bruno GuimaraesNewcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes (Image: PA)

Newcastle’s midfield has hit the right notes all season, but it is Guimaraes who has been the conductor-in-chief. The Brazilian is an exceptional midfielder, combining energy and tenacity with exemplary technique and sublime creative vision. His value to Eddie Howe’s side is immense given that he can play in an attacking-midfield role or as a defensive shield protecting the back four, and he is firmly established as a fans’ favourite.


The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough midfielder Hayden HackneyMiddlesbrough midfielder Hayden Hackney (Image: Tom Banks)

This time last year, Hackney was reflecting on a loan spell at Scunthorpe that ended with his temporary employers dropping out of the Football League. Twelve months on, and the Redcar-born 20-year-old is being lauded as one of the most exciting midfield prospects in the Championship. Having got his chance under Leo Percovich, Hackney excelled under Michael Carrick, driving Boro forward as he started every game bar one from mid-October onwards.



The Northern Echo: Newcastle United midfielder Miguel AlmironNewcastle United midfielder Miguel Almiron (Image: PA)

His form might have tailed off slightly towards the end of the season, but Almiron’s mid-season burst was one of the real highlights of Newcastle’s campaign. In the space of seven matches between the start of October and mid-November, the Paraguayan scored seven goals, at least two of which were strong Goal of the Season contenders. The undoubted pick, however, was his remarkable flicked finish at Fulham.


The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough forward Chuba AkpomMiddlesbrough forward Chuba Akpom (Image: Tom Banks)

Had Chris Wilder been able to sign the strikers he wanted last summer, Akpom would have been cast onto the Middlesbrough scrapheap. As it was, he was begrudgingly restored to the team under Wilder, transformed in a new ‘number ten’ role under Michael Carrick and ended the season as the Championship’s Player of the Season and Golden Boot winner. His scoring record, particularly at the Riverside, was remarkable, with the timing of his breaks into the box one of his key strengths.


The Northern Echo: Sunderland forward Amad DialloSunderland forward Amad Diallo (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Amad’s season at Sunderland was something of a slow burner, with Tony Mowbray dropping him in and out of the side during the first couple of months of his reign. However, the Manchester United loanee flourished in the second half of the campaign, scoring a series of stunning goals as he tore apart a succession of Championship defences. His remarkable strike in the first leg of the play-off semi-final was the perfect way to sign off at the Stadium of Light.



The Northern Echo: Newcastle United striker Callum WilsonNewcastle United striker Callum Wilson (Image: PA)

Having been written off at various stages of the season, Wilson will end the campaign with the best goalscoring tally of his Newcastle career. He goes into Sunday’s final game with 18 goals to his name, having exploded into life in the final six weeks of the season, scoring 11 goals in the space of ten matches. His performances have confirmed his status as one of the best number nines in the Premier League, and earned him a deserved recall to the England squad.


Anthony Patterson (Sunderland), Darragh Lenihan (Middlesbrough), Dan Burn (Newcastle), Dan Neil (Sunderland), Joelinton (Newcastle), Jack Clarke (Sunderland), Glen Taylor (Spennymoor)