NILE Ranger has the attributes to become “a hell of a player” if he can apply himself on and off the field, according to Willie Donachie.
The striker made his comeback from injury for Newcastle United’s reserves in last night’s 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in front of 400 fans at Whitley Park.
Ranger, who suffered an ankle problem playing for loan club Barnsley in January, had a hand in both Newcastle’s goals, scored by Ryan Donaldson and Jeff Henderson, and second string coach Donachie was impressed with his all-round performance.
The 20-year-old showed immense promise early in his career at the club.
However, his time on Tyneside has also been beset by off-the-field issues.
Ranger’s potential as a footballer isn’t in doubt, and Donachie just hopes he’s able to fulfil it.
“Nile could be a really good player if his attitude was good,” Donachie told the Gazette. “He has still got a lot of growing up to do.
“He has a lot going for him. Nile’s so privileged to be playing for Newcastle.
“Everybody in Newcastle would give their right arm to be doing what he’s doing.
“He is gifted with a physique and speed that, if you weren’t born with it, you can’t give it to somebody.
“It can be very frustrating, because some of the other lads who are leaving have a spot-on attitude.
“Unfortunately, they haven’t got his gifts. If he gets a bit of their attitude, he could be a hell of a player.”
Chelsea included £18m striker Romelu Lukaku in their team, and he scored two goals, with Billy Clifford and Nathaniel Chalobah also on target for the visitors.
Donachie said: “We said to them before the game that Chelsea’s reserve team’s frontline cost £20m.
“I also said I hate losing, but I was proud of their efforts. The lads gave everything they had.
“There was just a little lack of quality, we gave the ball away, and they hit us on the break.”
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Alnwick; Airey, Henderson, Kitchen, Riley; Maddison (D Taylor, 46), Logan (Miele, 46), Richardson, Moyo (Hooper. 62); Donaldson; Ranger. Subs not used: Baird, Storey.