Steve Bruce has decided to rely on experience over the past few months as Newcastle navigate the treacherous waters of the lower end of the Premier League table. That has meant few opportunities for local lads, Matty and Sean Longstaff, as well as promising youngster Elliot Anderson, who made his Newcastle debut in January.
Both Matty and Elliot were involved in the U23s on Monday getting 90 minutes under their belts in the 1-1 draw against Sunderland. The run out for the reserves is not too surprising considering the two youngsters haven’t had any competitive action over the past few months.
The duo continues to train with the first team. However, the involvement with the U23s earlier the week doesn’t seem to signify anything other than some match practice for the two young Geordies.
Steve Bruce was asked about the immediate futures of both Matty Longstaff and Elliot Anderson in his press conference this morning. While Bruce believes both Matty and Elliot have bright futures at Newcastle, he made it crystal clear that he will continue to rely on experience.
First, he was asked about whether Matty Longstaff had a chance to return after his stint with the U23s on Monday. This was Bruce’s response:
“He hasn’t been away, Matty. It’s just that he hasn’t found himself in the team.
“I think with somebody so young. We forget Matty is only 20, 21-years-old so it was important that we still got some game-time under his belt.
“We thought it was a good opportunity for him to get 90 minutes under his belt, which is never a bad thing especially being so young.
“It’s fine. Look I have the same every other week. I can only pick 11.
“I have 15 others who are champing at the bit and disappointed.
“Matty at the moment is not in the side. Let’s not forget he has a huge, big future, there is no question about that.
“He had a big rise last year and finds himself out the team at the moment.
“He has to just stick with it, his time will come again that’s for sure.
“We’ve decided he can play a few games and make sure he gets some football because he’s still so young.”
Later in the press conference, Bruce was asked about Elliot Anderson, who, like Matty, has not been in any recent matchday squads. This was Bruce’s response when asked about any concerns he would have with starting Elliot Anderson tomorrow:
“Well if I had to put him in, then I would put him in. But he’s young and inexperienced. I think what I need at the moment, in particular, is all the experience that I can have to handle the situation we have.
“We’ve got a very good young player on our hands. But let’s not forget he’s only 18, 19. The same goes for Matty Longstaff too. They’re both young in their development.
“It’s important that they still have a few 90 minutes under their belt. They play for the reserves, or the U23s, or whatever you want to call it.
“But look he’s a very, very good young player, the kid. We know what he is.
“At the moment I need to draw on all the experienced ones that I can, who can handle the situation that we’re in.”
So it doesn’t look like either Matty or Elliot will be getting opportunities anytime soon. If Bruce doesn’t trust the youngsters now, with such a depleted squad, then they’ll likely be on the fringes for the rest of the season.
The decision to not allow either to go out on loan seems a poor one at this point. Both could be gaining valuable experience in the Championship rather than a few outings with the U23s.