Shane Ferguson is entering a crossroads in his Newcastle United career. The Northern Irishman is currently on-loan at League One side Millwall, but his contract on Tyneside expires next summer and time is running out for the 24-year-old to show his potential in the north-east.
The left-sider has shown himself to be a speedy outlet when given the chance. Ferguson has tricky feet and is undoubtedly at his best moving forward; he best displayed these attributes back in 2011 when Alan Pardew saw fit to reward him with a brand new five-year deal.
However, since then, Ferguson’s ascent has been anything but smooth sailing. Two loan-spells to a then-struggling Birmingham City did nothing to push the Northern Ireland international on. Mid-way through last season, Ferguson would then be sent to Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers alongside four other Newcastle team mates in what is still - for all intents and purposes - a strange deal.
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Merely a pawn
Owner Mike Ashley clearly had an underhand agenda in organising these deals around the same time he was trying to purchase the club. Ferguson was still recovering from a knee ligament injury when he was sent north of the border and only managed to regain fitness in time to take part in the two-legged play-off final, which Rangers lost to Motherwell.
It could certainly be said that Ferguson’s best interests were not considered when he was sent to Scotland last season.
Having returned to full fitness in the summer, Ferguson was then sent out on loan to London side Millwall in League One, where he recently netted a brace in a 4-1 win over Colchester to cap off a tremendous couple of months.
Despite a rocky club career, Ferguson has been a vital component of the Northern Ireland side that booked their place in France next summer for Euro 2016. Being deployed as a winger, Ferguson has been an influential outlet for Michael O’Neill’s men and has amassed 22 caps thus far. He’s a virtual certainty for the plane.
The Derry-born star is in hot form for club and country and this has prompted talk of a return to St James’ in January when his loan deal expires. Whilst it’s almost certain Millwall will want to extend the deal, could he be of use to Steve McClaren and his struggling side?
He’s certainly worth a try. What good will it do for the club to send him out on loan again? He’s 24-years-old now, normally by this juncture if a player hasn’t broken into the first-team fold, he isn’t going to.
If he is to grab a new deal next summer and prolong his stay on Tyneside he’ll need to contribute to Newcastle in the here and now. To do that, McClaren needs to give him a chance. Whenever Pardew unleashed Ferguson, he looked a lively option down the left, full of endeavour with a focus of delivering the ball into the box. A certain Aleksander Mitrovic wouldn’t mind that.
Newcastle fans: Would you like to see Ferguson back at Newcastle? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!