Dan Ashworth gave some insight into Newcastle United’s strategy following the news Elliot Anderson had signed a new long-term deal at the club.
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After impressing on loan at Bristol Rovers last season, the 19-year-old has been handed a much more prominent role under Eddie Howe. Despite making his debut back in January 2021 away at Arsenal in the FA Cup, the Scotland U21 made only one other senior appearance before he was loaned out a year later.
While there was understood to have some thought given to another loan spell, Howe kept Anderson at the club after some impressive performances throughout pre-season. This time out, Anderson has been handed three Premier League appearances, albeit they have only yielded 32 minutes of action.
Given some of the attacking problems the team have endured of late, there may be calls to see him given a start soon. Still, even the idea of a young player from the club’s academy making progress is something of a rarity for Newcastle, with that pathway not exactly well-trodden over the years.
The Longstaff brothers, Paul Dummett and Andy Carroll are the headline examples of success stories in recent years, although arguably none of them have gone on to have the kind of careers at the club many would have predicted.
Anderson, however, certainly looks exciting. Slowly integrating him into the rigours of first-team football seems a wise decision and is an early indication of a club able to generate their own players, rather than soullessly buying them in as a result of October’s takeover. Clearly, the teenager has a lot to prove and one swallow does not make a summer, but the symbolism feels important.
Indeed, The Athletic revealed in May that Newcastle were keen to develop their own talent to give their new era an added layer of authenticity and Ashworth’s comments in the wake of Anderson’s new contract certainly fit in line with that.
What did Ashworth say about Anderson?
Speaking to the club’s official website, the Newcastle United sporting director said: “Our strategy is not just about who we can buy, it is also about who we have and how we nurture and develop our best young talent.
“It’s crucial for the club and our Academy to provide a pathway for our young players and a belief that if they are good enough, they will get an opportunity to play.
“Steve Harper with the Academy and Eddie Howe and his staff have been brilliant with Elliot. They have given him an opportunity and some great coaching and development to enable him to get to this level.
“Elliot has shown he has the attributes to have a successful career at this level and we hope he will be here for a long time to come.”