He may be only 19 but few players have generated such excitement at St James' in recent years.
It’s been quite some time since Adam Armstrong was first tipped to end the relative drought of homegrown players making a name for themselves in the Newcastle United first-team. However, according to The Chronicle, Magpies fans are going to have to wait a little longer still.
The Magpies relegation looked certain to hand the diminutive striker the chance to explode onto the scene after netting 20 times in 40 League One appearances for Coventry City in 2015/16, only to be farmed out on another loan spell, this time to Barnsley, in order to provide him with regular first-team opportunities rather than the odd sporadic cameo.
And his tally of three in 12 games for The Tykes suggests that, regardless of the hype surrounding his potential, the 19-year-old cannot yet be relied upon the lead the line for a side with one aim and one aim only – winning the title.
And that is no slight on the Chapel House-born prodigy – time is very much on his side and more talented players have seen their progress stall in the face of such hyped expectations and pressure.
Therefore, it’s difficult to argue against Newcastle’s decision to extend his six-month loan at Oakwell until the end of the campaign or even grant him another short-term stint elsewhere, despite Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic failing to fire on a regular basis.
After all, Rafael Benitez wants to build a dynasty and leave a legacy at St James’ Park. He’s in no rush.
And neither should Armstrong, a perfect fit for the Spaniard’s specifications. There’s a reason why the towering, physical Mitrovic has only started four Championship games all season while Perez and Gayle have played from the off a combined 28 times.
Clearly, Benitez wants quick, dextrous strikers capable of drifting into space and dragging opposition defenders out of position – attributes the burly yet sluggish Mitrovic clearly lacks but Gayle and Perez possess in abundance.
So, too, does Armstrong. The chance will come. He’s just got to earn it first.
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