Sean Longstaff was a surprise inclusion in the Newcastle starting XI against Manchester City, but he failed to deliver.
The midfielder joined Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes in the middle of the park, with Joe Willock and Jonjo Shelvey missing out due to injury.
It was a golden opportunity for Longstaff, whose contract expires this summer. He has reportedly been offered a new deal, with Eddie Howe keen to keep him at St James’ Park.
He got a start at the Etihad, but was ran ragged by Manchester City. The academy graduate barely got a kick and was dominated by the likes of Kevin de Bruyne.
It was another harsh lesson for Newcastle, who were battered 5-0 by one of the best teams in the world. And it was a harsh lesson for Longstaff, who needs to justify his place in the Magpies’ squad.
Newcastle injuries create real opportunity for Sean Longstaff
After the game, Howe confirmed that injuries will likely keep Willock and Shelvey out for the rest of the season. They will miss the remaining two games against Arsenal and Burnley.
That’s certainly a blow, but not the end of the world given that safety is basically secured.
It’s good news for Longstaff, as it basically confirms his place in the starting XI for the rest of the season. It gives him the opportunity to prove he can play a role in this Newcastle midfield alongside the likes of Bruno.
Standards are raising at St James’ Park, and the current crop need to step up. That includes Longstaff, who needs to prove why he deserves a new contract.
He wants more first-team minutes, but he won’t get them if he can’t prove to be effective in Howe’s midfield. He wasn’t against Man City, but not many Newcastle players were.
Longstaff needs to step up against Arsenal, otherwise Howe might have second thoughts about keeping the local lad.