Newcastle World journalist Liam Kennedy has been very impressed by Sean Longstaff’s performances this season after the midfielder endured a “dreadful” pre-season.
What are Longstaff’s stats this season?
Having failed to find his best form in pre-season, Longstaff was left out of the starting line-up for Newcastle’s opening two league games as Steve Bruce’s men suffered back-to-back defeats.
However, he has since been brought into the side and has completed the full 90 minutes in each of the Magpies’ last four top-flight matches.
According to WhoScored, he has been Newcastle’s sixth-best player this term, receiving an average game rating of 6.67, and he has made 19 successful tackles – only Joe Willock (22) has made more for the team.
Longstaff got his first goal of the season on Saturday during Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with Watford which lifted the club out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
What did Kennedy say about Longstaff?
Kennedy has admitted that he thought Longstaff was heading for the exit door this summer, but he has been delighted to see the 23-year-old turn things around, particularly in his recent display against Leeds.
He told GIVEMESPORT: “It looked to me like he was walking out the door in the summer, it really did. It looked like Steve Bruce had made his mind up on him. Opportunities came his way, he had a full pre-season where Joe Willock wasn’t there. He played the Joe Willock role and wasn’t very good, was dreadful actually in pre-season. He didn’t grasp that opportunity with both hands.
“It’s taken him to go back out the team and come back in to suddenly realise ‘I think this is his opportunity.’ He played in a more advanced role, he played as a No. 10 against Leeds, and was just confident, spraying the ball around.”
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Can Longstaff play a major role in keeping Newcastle up this season?
Newcastle look set to be involved in a relegation scrap this year as they have been unable to win any of their league fixtures so far. If they are going to avoid the dreaded drop, they may need Longstaff to be at his very best in the coming months.
When Longstaff first burst onto the scene in 2019, he was compared to Michael Carrick. This was high praise indeed, considering Carrick won five league titles during his playing career with Manchester United.
It would be fair to say that Longstaff has not progressed as some may have expected in the years since – he was restricted to just 15 league starts last season. However, he now seems to be establishing himself as a key player at St James’ Park, and if he can maintain his current form for a sustained period, he could finally start to deliver on the potential that many saw in him two years ago.