SHANE Ferguson is determined to force his way into Alan Pardew’s plans at Newcastle United between now and the end of the season.
Ferguson came on at half-time in the club’s last game, a desperately disappointing 5-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
And the 20-year-old’s performance was one of the few positives for manager Pardew.
Ferguson replaced Gabriel Obertan – who had struggled to make any kind of impression – at the break, and Pardew’s side were more resolute in the second half.
Since then, versatile Ferguson has been called up by new Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill, a former United striker.
Ferguson – who has made one senior appearance for his country – is joined in O’Neill’s first squad by ex-Newcastle defender Aaron Hughes, who has come out of retirement.
Pardew could yet loan out him for first-team experience, as he has done with Haris Vuckic, and intends to do with Mehdi Abeid. However, Ferguson isn’t thinking about a loan, and is instead focused on following up his appearance at White Hart Lane will more games for the club, ahead of Saturday’s home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“It depends with injuries, but at the minute I think I’m staying at Newcastle,” Ferguson told the Gazette.
“I’ll just have to keep working hard in training, and trying to push my way in. Hopefully, I’ll get a couple more appearances under my belt.”
While demoralising, the Spurs defeat has not damaged United’s hopes of a return to Europe.
A victory over managerless Wolves – who sacked Mick McCarthy after their last game, a 5-1 defeat to local rivals West Bromwich Albion – would lift them into fifth place.
And Ferguson is quick to put the result into context, the season so far having been hugely promising.
“They’ve been fantastic all season,” he added. “Obviously, we’re not going to perform to our best every match, but the lads have been fantastic all season.
“Hopefully, we can continue that and bounce back.
“It wasn’t our night. We have to bounce back now. That’s the main thing – how we bounce back.”
What’s more, Pardew will again have influential midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote available, while Ryan Taylor has also recovered from the injury which kept him out at White Hart Lane.
“We’re at home, and it’s definitely a game we’re looking to win,” said Ferguson. “It’s a good game for us to bounce back in.
“The squad will be back to full strength, and it’ll be good to have those two players back.”
* Newcastle United’s visit to Swansea City has been brought forward to Good Friday (4.30pm kick-off) for live broadcast by Sky Sports.
Norwich’s visit to St James’s Park has been put back to Sunday, March 18 (4pm), also for screening by Sky.