In his search for young British talent, Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew could well turn his attention to Blackpool winger Matt Phillips according to FootyBunker.com. The 20-year-old winger has been on fire in the Championship of late and his impressive recent form saw him pick up the Football League’s Young Player of the Month award in January.
The right wing spot is one that no-one currently has nailed down at Newcastle. Gabriel Obertan featured there a lot earlier in the season, but the Frenchman hasn’t exactly hit the heights since his move from Manchester United. Ryan Taylor has played there more recently, but he is somewhat more of a defensive option who might be happier in the back four. Then there’s Hatem Ben Arfa, but Pardew still seems reluctant to regularly use the mercurial forward despite his clear talent.
As for Phillips, the youngster’s career has taken off of late. He has one Premier League goal to his name, scoring on his debut for Blackpool against Blackburn, but it is mainly in the lower leagues where he’s impressed. He scored a handful of times in six matches during a loan spell with Sheffield United in League One earlier in the season and marked his return to the seaside town with two hat-tricks in less than a month.
Phillips’ talent hasn’t gone unnoticed. Fellow Championship promotion chasers Cardiff tried to snap him up for £800,000 in January, but Blackpool manager Ian Holloway wasn’t having any of it. Someone who may snap him up though is the Scottish national team, as English-born Phillips who has represented his country at under-20 level, has been called up to play for Scotland in their international friendly against Slovenia tomorrow.
His manager clearly believes in him as Holloway told BBC Sport: “I believe he is good enough for one of the top five teams in this country and that makes him good enough for one of the top five teams in the world doesn’t it?” That is what Newcastle are on the cusp of right now, but slightly worryingly Holloway further said about Phillips on England U20 duty: “He was also asked to do some defending, which I don’t normally ask him to do, and it was all a little bit different.”
One thing Matt Phillips does have is pace to burn. He clearly also has an eye for goal and his youthful enthusiasm wouldn’t go amiss on Tyneside. While a fee as high as £5 million has been suggested, given Cardiff’s bid last month, a fee of £1-2m seems more likely if the Toon turn to this Tangerine.