Matty Longstaff was handed a surprise start last night in our 2-0 defeat at Manchester City. It was as difficult a fixture as any for a young player to be thrown into.
However, the 20-year-old, as he often did last season, handled the occasion well and put in a committed performance under the circumstances.
This year has been very difficult for Matty, who has dealt with injuries, a protracted contract saga, as well as receiving very little game time when fit.
But he was not off the pace last night and was one of the better players in a black and white shirt. He’s hopefully done enough to garner more consideration for future starts.
Steve Bruce was asked about the midfielder after yesterday’s match. The Shields Gazette have published the following comments from the head coach:
“He gave a performance which reminded me of why I put him in the team last year.
“He’s obviously had a really, really difficult time in terms of a thigh injury which he really couldn’t shake off. He broke down twice, three times with it, and then he had a case of not being right in himself.
“He’s had to wait patiently. We bided our time with him to make sure he is physically right. He lost a lot of weight during the lockdown for whatever reason. Thankfully he’s got that back, and he’s reminded us what a good player he is.”
It seems that Bruce may have been protecting Matty. It took months for him to recover from his thigh injury and then also struggled last season when returning from lockdown.
Hopefully, he’s ready for a steady string of games. It could be an important month for the young midfielder. If he’s not going to get games the rest of this season, Bruce really needs to consider loaning him out so he can continue his development with first-team football elsewhere.