When Rafael Benitez stated earlier in the year that he was wary about giving young players an opportunity at Newcastle United, as reported by the Sunderland Echo, it became clear that Alex Gilliead still had a lot to do to force his way into the manager’s plans.
The 21-year-old winger stood out on loan at Luton Town in the first half of last season with Hatters’ boss Nathan Jones tipping Gilliead for future Premier League stardom.
And the Shotley Bridge-born youngster, who has played seven times for England’s Under-20s side, is continuing to enhance his reputation during another temporary spell away from St James’ Park – this time at Bradford City in League One.
Gilliead has now started The Bantams last five league games, demonstrating exactly why he is so highly-rated on Tyneside and ensuring last season’s Player of the Year, Mark Marshall, is not being missed as much as fans had feared.
“I just need to get out on the pitch and show people what I can do. Maybe also prove some of them wrong,” Gilliead, who has his very own chant to the tune of David Bowie’s Star Man, told the Telegraph and Argus.
He will certainly be hoping to show Benitez what he can do as he looks to become the first home-grown academy graduate to make his way into Newcastle’s starting XI on a regular basis since Paul Dummett.
Newcastle are not short of wingers after landing Josh Murphy and Christian Atsu on permanent deals this summer, meaning it is far too soon to tip Gilliead to be The Magpies very own ‘star man’.
However, if he maintains his form in League One, Gilliead will at least give Benitez a decision to make.