Elliot Anderson. Remember him? At the turn of the year, he looked as if he might just break through into the first team.
Having been moved up to train with the seniors he finally saw action against Arsenal in the FA Cup and then again in the league.
Both from the bench but in his minutes in the Cup tie he looked more than capable of playing at this level and perhaps could have been given more minutes. Instead, we brought in Joe Willock on loan and despite Hendrick being suspended for the Chelsea game, Anderson didn’t even make the bench.
Now, given he’s not played for the U-23’s since November have we missed a trick in more ways than one? No loan move (we rejected Championship offers last month) and he’s played just 42 minutes of football over the past few months.
It’s seems certain that the boy doesn’t lack confidence and perhaps even challenged Steve Bruce last night with a social media post, with him sharing a telling Kylian Mbappe quote after the French star helped PSG destroy Barcelona in the Noucamp with a hat-trick on Tuesday night.
Mbappe’s post said – “I never liked talking about age. If you’re good you play if you’re not good you don’t play. If you’re good you take the responsibility. If you’re not good, you shut up and watch the others. Don’t talk to me about age, talk to me about levels.”
Clearly Eliot feels he’s good enough. From what we’ve seen he is but it may be next season no before he gets the chance to prove it which brings in the point that we may have made a mistake. Plenty of Championship sides wanted to take him on loan in January but we resisted.
Now, with Willock coming in and impressing, Bruce’s favourites Shelvey and Hendrick always having a chance of a game as well as the always impressive Hayden – not to mention Miggy and The Longstaff’s – it feels like Elliot is unlikely to get a more than few minutes off the bench.
You have to feel for him as we have eight midfielders in our ‘25’ and that doesn’t include him. He now finds himself in a dreaded limbo between Newcastle’s U23 squad and the first team where he’s now struggling to make the bench.
He’s still very young, but the timing isn’t great as he enters a crucial stage of his development where time on the pitch is vital. Perhaps this latest activity on social media is his way of suggesting he feels ready to be given the responsibility of first-team minutes.
We’ve made a habit of badly managing our best U-23 talents over the past decade. Let’s hope Anderson isn’t going to be the latest one we waste!