It’s been a tough summer so far. Willock’s arrival aside, we’ve not had the best of pre-season’s, haven’t made enough signings, have seen the takeover get delayed until 202 and lost our first game of 2021/22 on Sunday.
Perhaps that’s why we need to look closely at the talented young players knocking on the first-team door.
After Sean Longstaff, Matty Longstaff, Kell Watts and Elliot Anderson have got themselves in and around the senior set up in recent years, it’s time to look at those who could be handed their big chance on Tyneside this coming season.
We’ve saw Matt Bondswell – the former RB Leipzig full-back – Dan Langley, Tom Allan, Jack Young and Joe White see pre-season action with the first team. All of them are highly rated and I hope they along with Kell Watts and Elliot Anderson get good loan moves to play against senior players in league football. The latter reminds me of a young Ross Barkley, but his 2021 has been marred by an ongoing hip injury so far.
Watts has been the first to leave on loan, joining League One contenders Wigan Athletic. Some say he’s good enough to play in the Championship and I’d tend to agree, but game time is key and he’ll get that there.
The Premier League 2 is a good stomping and starting ground but players need to develop by testing themselves against hardened and experienced professionals not amongst their peers where they often shine.
Joe White is the big one to watch for me. He’s tall for an attacking midfielder but showed a touch of class in a cameo at Burton last month. Talking of tall talents, 6ft 7′ stopper Dan Langley started a few pre-season games and needs a loan move now to test himself in the physically demanding EFL.
Of the others, former Arsenal winger Stan Flaherty and Dylan Stephenson excite me. Both of those showed up well last season and look like real prospects. Stephenson in particular as a forward scoring goals will always reap interest. Savage is another to keep an eye on I think.
Flaherty has a spark about him and scored a few brilliant goals for our U23’s last season. He, Anderson and Joe White could all be knocking on the door soon.
Then we have the trio of summer signings. Centre back Remi Savage has come in from Liverpool, fellow defender Charlie Wiggett arrives from Chelsea – a club he’s captained at youth level and Cameron Ferguson, son of Duncan, could be some player if he’s anything like his dad!
Whatever their progress they give hope, all of them, and in these troubling and worrying times for the first team we need to latch onto any of that we have.