In years gone by Newcastle’s academy had been underperforming. Remi Street, Gael Bigirimana and Haris Vuckic among many other names were players that seemed to promise so much yet delivered so little.
Alan Pardew’s reign of 4 years saw a neglect of youth and standards in the academy began to deteriorate. But now things are changing for the better and with Rafa Benitez at the helm, development of the clubs youngsters is a priority. I thought I would take a closer look at Newcastle’s five most exciting prospects below:
Regularly appearing on the Magpies bench last season, Woodman is adding further quality and competition to the goalkeeper department at the club. Son of former Newcastle goalkeeper coach Andy Woodman, Freddie has been sent out on loan twice to Hartlepool United and Crawley Town. Most notably the youngster has become a success playing for England winning a European title with the Under-17. In October he made his debut for the Under-21 side, more importantly keeping a clean sheet. If Woodman continues to progress at the rate he is, it won’t be long before we see him as Newcastle’s number one.
Yasin Ben El-Mhanni
Position: Right Wing
A new addition to the Under-23 team,
was signed in the summer of 2016 and along with him came the tag of the ‘Non-League Riyad Mahrez’. Liverpool and Tottenham were monitoring him with Chelsea even giving him a trial; however it’s in the North East he has found his new home. An exciting right winger with the ability to deploy a large array of skills can be easily found in viral video’s on YouTube where he records his showboating. If El-Mhanni can improve his general game, he’s one step away from being a guaranteed crowd pleaser at St. James’s following in the footsteps of his manager Peter Beardsley.
(El-Mhanni pictured left)
Position: Centre Midfield
Longstaff who turned 19 only 10 days ago is certainly banging on the first team door. From midfield he is the reserve team’s top goal scorer with a huge 10 goals in his last nine matches. The box-to-box midfielder who is in hot form must of caught Benitez’s attention and I would not be surprised to see him given a chance with the first team when the African Cup Of Nations come around in January. If Longstaff can recreate his current form in the Championship Mo Diame might not be missed while he’s away.
Position: Left Wing
Roberts joined Newcastle United at the age of eight and he made his senior debut, coming on as a second-half substitute in an FA Cup match against Leicester City in January 2015. The exciting winger offers flair and goals, always offering a threat going forward. Since his debut Roberts has been limited to occasional appearances on the bench, getting the majority of his share of football for the Under-23 side. Roberts would benefit from first team football and a loan to a lower league club could prove to be the making of him.
What Armstrong lacks in height, only 5ft 7inches tall, he certainly makes up for it with his electrifying pace. A name already familiar to a lot of fans Armstrong is the second youngest player to play for Newcastle in the Premier League. A successful spell at Coventry City last season on loan saw him net a healthy 20 goals in 40 appearances, and at the end of the season he found himself in the PFA Team of the Year for League One. Currently on loan at Barnsley, along with Newcastle in the Championship, Armstrong managed to collect the September goal of the month award with a stunning curling effort. The local lad will surely be dreaming about the famous number 9 shirt in the future.