Speaking exclusively to Nothing But Newcastle Steve Howey has delivered his verdict on the up-and-coming Elliot Anderson.
What did he say?
When asked what he made of the recent debutant, Howey was certainly complimentary.
“I know he’s done well.
“I think he wants to not end up like Ivan Toney or Adam Armstrong who have had to leave Newcastle.
“He’s more an attacking midfielder, I don’t think he’s an out-and-out forward but he’s certainly a talent.
“He’s someone I think will be at Newcastle for a very long time if he keeps progressing.”
Is he right?
On early evidence, yes.
Granted, the sample size in analysing the 18-year-old isn’t huge given he made his first-team debut over the course of the weekend, though he is someone Steve Bruce reportedly called into training with his seasoned professionals months ago after being impressed behind the scenes.
Indeed, though this fairly bleak stat is perhaps indicative of Newcastle’s struggles going forward, Anderson’s brief cameo in the FA Cup loss saw him rank joint-first for dribbles completed (1, via WhoScored) and his one shot was bettered by only two teammates.
So, in the context of Newcastle’s blunt attack, it’s fair to say he at least injected something into the final third despite only coming on in the 80th minute.
Teammate Allan Saint-Maximin has also talked him up and Bruce tipped the player for a ‘big future’ after an ‘effortless’ maiden voyage.
Pinning any kind of hope on a youngster seems somewhat unfair but, with Newcastle struggling for invention, Anderson does look like a useful option.
Howey’s mentioning of Toney and Armstrong is interesting too. Indeed, both players struggled to command much of a first-team berth – making just 25 appearances between them – though are now tied as the Championship’s top scorers with 16 apiece.
Newcastle have previously shown an unwillingness to trust the youth and appear to have lost out on two forwards already, so hopefully this time is different with the obvious caveat Anderson does tend to play a tad deeper.
Though there is a lot of football to be played, Newcastle would be mad to make that mistake again.