Soccer / newcastle
NUFC - Sean Longstaff Is The Heartbeat of 2019 Toon Resurgence
Newcastle United are one of the form teams of 2019 in the Premier League and Geordie Sean Longstaff from North Shields is the lynchpin of Rafa Benitez's remodelled side. Important wins at home against Man City, Burnley, Huddersfield and Cardiff have followed his top flight debuts, as a late substitute away at Anfield then Stamford Bridge for his first PL start over the festive period, and lifted The Magpies towards safety & he is a deserving nominee for the Premier League Player of the Month award for February. (Vote here) Worryingly for the rest of The Premier Leagur, a player keeping Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame and Ki Sung-Yeung out of the United line-up is just finding his feet in the top flight & the best is yet to come from the 21-year-old. Rice, 20, recently switched his international allegiance from Eire to England to a wave of criticism after he had featured for The Republic of Ireland from U16 level all the way up to U21s and the first team even featuring in 3 friendlies before being coveted by England. While Geordie Longstaff is yet to receive international honours of any kind, lavish praise has followed his emergence on The Premier League scene not least from vanquished manager of Premier League Champions Man City, Pep Guardiola: He is a shoo-in for Aidy Boothroyd's U21s squad next week although having played against Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs, could rightly be knocking on the first team door although Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has advocated patient progress: "I like to see my players going to the national team, but it has to be the right one. I don’t care if it’s Under-20, Under-21s or even the senior side, but I think he needs to go one step at a time.. I think there are not too many English players with his quality and who are playing in the Premier League. I think he will go [to the national side at some stage] and he wouldn’t look out of place. But the main thing, for me, is to keep him calm and keep him working as hard as he is now." What Longstaff has brought to the Newcastle side so far is superb passing, a great engine, defensive discipline and work-rate yet what most commentators have picked out is a preternatural poise and calm, a knack for doing the right thing at the right time, instintively picking out teammates, drawing comparions with Geordie Michael Carrick. Yet as he grows in confidence and finds more licence to get forward, scoring goals are a big component of his game as he showed against Burnley on Tuesday night scoring his first Premier League goal for his boyhood club - "a dream come true" - and former manager Gary Bowyer waxed lyrical to The Chronicle about his goalscoring prowess: "He has a fantastic engine and great fitness levels but it was his goal return from midfield that was outstanding. He had this unbelievable knack for shooting and being successful at it so we encouraged it. He can score from long range. "Most of his goals came from distance. He is up against a higher calibre of goalkeeper now but he still has that ability." While it may seem that Longstaff has emerged from nowhere, those in the know in the game realize that he has been an excellent talent bubbling under the surface patiently waiting for his chance in the big time and with sporting pedigree like ice hockey legend father David and Uncle Alan Thompson who played for Newcastle, Celtic and Aston Villa and won one senior England Cap, he will be around for a long time to come. Remember the name.