Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek believes the club have a star in the making in Adam Armstrong, but warns that the 17-year-old striker will find it far from easy to establish himself in the Premier League.
One of the club’s brightest prospects, Armstrong earned his first start for his hometown club in Wednesday's Capital One Cup tie against Crystal Palace, having previously made four first-team appearances as a substitute towards the end of last season.
The England under-18 international would go on to record two assists on the night to help Alan Pardew’s side claim a 3-2 win at Selhurst Park in extra-time, but Srnicek stresses that the hard work now starts here.
‘Adam Armstrong has the world at his feet at the moment, but the next step is the hardest. Many don’t make it,’ he wrote on the ChronicleLive.
‘It is extraordinary when a 17-year-old gets into a Premier League team – especially at a big, big club like Newcastle United.
‘You need to have a big talent and a big personality to cope with the pressure that comes – and many reach a certain point and then fall away.
‘Newcastle have a big job on their hands making sure that Armstrong develops the right way and becomes the player that they hope he will. I’m not sure there’s a league in the world that is as difficult for young players coming through the academy as England.
‘It is all down to money. In England the league is economically stable and big clubs like Newcastle can go out and buy ready-made players because things like the TV money and prize money give them a strong advantage when it comes to working the European transfer market.
‘Would they allow Armstrong to lead the line at 18 or 19 if he doesn’t score for five or six games? I doubt it. They will go out and buy someone who already has a long-established reputation.
‘I remember playing alongside Steve Watson and Lee Clark at Newcastle and they were exceptional talents playing in a very good team, but they had personality as well as ability and that’s why they came through.'
With Newcastle taking on Stoke City on Monday night, in what could prove a must-win game for Pardew, many have been calling for Armstrong to be given a chance to lead the line, but Srnicek believes that would be asking too much at this stage.
‘I think Newcastle need to have a plan to make sure that Armstrong is given the best opportunity to succeed – and then they need to give him the chances. Would I play him at Stoke? I think it might be a bit too early but he needs to be getting games at some point.
‘For him to have even got this far is pretty remarkable when you look at the way the numbers stack up in the Premier League. It’s a hard thing for any young player.’