When blogging about NUFC it has to be said that it’s a lot easier, at times, to write negative (but factual) articles as there seems precious little positivity to take heart from.
My first team positives are Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson and having Joe Willock around again. I find little else to excite.
So, I cast an eye inwards and see if there’s anything else I can grab by the boot strings of hope and cling on to. Enter Dylan Stephenson.
The 18-year-old forward burst on the scene last season with a hat-trick against Leeds United in the FA Youth Cup and appears to be going from strength to strength after a prolific start to 2021/22.
Until last Monday’s 3 – 0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Trophy the Under-23’s were unbeaten. Three PL2 games had seen them draw 1 – 1 at Reading, beat Birmingham away 4 – 0 and then take down Burnley at home 2 – 0.
Seven goals, only one conceded and seven points had seen the young Magpies make an encouraging start to their season until Sheff. Wed who actually had an average age of 24 and two full internationals in their side.
Of the seven goals, FIVE have come from Dylan Stephenson – which has seen him nominated for the PL2 player of the month award for August.
He got one at Reading and then followed that up with a brace against Birmingham and both the goals in that 2-0 win over Burnley. His performances have been described as first class and his finishing top-notch.
Yes, I appreciate that there is a world of difference between the Under-23’s and the first team but you have to remember that Stephenson is leading the line so far with his performances and he’s still only 18. The Blyth born forward has certainly looked the part so far.
Of course, he’s a Geordie (Well Northumbrian at least!) and yes he’s young. Both of which means that if he continues along the path he’s started on the expectation levels will increase and the clamour for a push-up to the first team squad.
We have to be patient and we have to allow him to develop along the lines that we hope he can follow. We must not over burden him with hope and expectation. But we can also remember the age-old adage, “if you’re good enough you’re old enough!”