My first thought after the final whistle at Craven Cottage on Monday night – “Elliot Anderson might finally get a game now we’re officially safe!”
Honest, it was! I said I wouldn’t celebrate our “survival” and I didn’t. I can’t say I wasn’t relieved that our Premier League status was confirmed. Of course I was, but it is nothing to celebrate in my opinion.
But I did think that the biggest winner in all this may be Elliott Anderson in particular – especially when Bruce denied him a loan move to Luton after promising he’d get game time from January onwards.
Aside from a late cameo at Arsenal in the FA Cup, he’s not played a minute and must be pretty frustrated that we’ve allowed him to stall in the reserves and miss out on matchday squads – not play week in week out in the Championship!
I understand that a recent hip injury will more than likely see him miss out against Man City, but there’s every chance he’ll be fit for the Sheffield Utd game next Wednesday. What a bonus that would be for those fans attending and perhaps even an opportunity for Steve Bruce to deflect the attention elsewhere.
For me, it’s now all about the summer and next season. I would love us to finish with a few wins over Sheffield Utd and Fulham, but it’s a perfect opportunity to play Anderson, if fit, perhaps even alongside Matty Longstaff and Willock? Who knows, that could be our midfield trio in years to come!
Heck, he may even save us some money if we discover he’s as good as we all hope. Remember too that Sheffield Utd and Fulham are now Championship bound. Even if Anderson doesn’t stay at NUFC and goes out on loan next season it will be a chance to see what he’s capable of at that level.
Not only that, it’d be wrong and pretty infuriating for Anderson if Bruce backtracked on his January promise and didn’t even bother. We have a knack of messing talented Academy players about and seeing them thrive elsewhere at clubs that believe in them, so it’s time we gave him a shot – especially when he looked anything but out of his depth the one time we saw him at Arsenal.
With Wilson out, hopefully precautionary rather than long-term and us safe, what possible excuse can Bruce come up with to avoid playing Anderson? None that I can see unless of course his injury is worse than we’re led to believe.
Rather than give the departing Andy Carroll a goodbye game against Sheffield Utd next week, let’s start future star Elliot Anderson!