Ayoze Perez is one of the few Newcastle United players to have enhanced his reputation so far this season.
That’s the verdict of Alan Shearer, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Shearer, however, feels others have not matched his efforts in black and white so far this season.
Head coach Steve McClaren tore into his players at the club’s training on Monday during a heated inquest into last weekend’s shocking 3-0 home defeat to Leicester City.
The result left the club just a point above the Premier League’s relegation zone.
And McClaren has demanded a reaction from his team against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tomorrow.
He looks as if he’s taken it in his stride. He’s one of not many that have actually performed well this season. I’ve been impressed with him.Alan Shearer
Perez – who has scored three goals so far this term – will be one of the first names on McClaren’s teamsheet.
The 22-year-old kept the club up with his seven league goals last season, and Match of the Day pundit Shearer has been “impressed” with him alongside summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Perez’s form hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have an interest in the player, though Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren does not want to see him leave in January’s transfer window.
Shearer feels Perez – who has been named the North East Football Writers’ Association’s young player of the year – has taken Premier League football in his stride since arriving from Tenerife as an unknown last year.
“I liked the look of him when he played last season,” said Shearer, who was on South Tyneside last week to open South Shields FC’s new functions rooms and usher in a new era at the ambitious Northern League club.
“I remember when he played against Spurs. He was up front on his own, and it’s a difficult role to play.
“I liked the way he kept toiling away, I liked his movement.
“He’s made an impressive start this year, particularly when the club’s spent big money on another centre forward (Mitrovic).
“Mentally, that might have been hard for him.
“He looks as if he’s taken it in his stride. He’s one of not many that have actually performed well this season.
“I’ve been impressed with him.”
Mitrovic has scored two goals this season, but he’s made more headlines for his indiscipline, having been shown a yellow card seconds into his debut against Southampton and dismissed against Arsenal.
And Shearer wants the powerful 21-year-old to make a bigger contribution up front for McClaren, whose side has been struggling for goals.
“He’s got to try to score some more goals,” said Shearer. “He’s physical, he’s strong.
“It looks like he might have learnt his lesson after getting sent off and getting yellow cards.
“That’s part and parcel of it once or twice a season, but not as regularly as he has been in his career.
“But the older you get, the more mature you become and you start to understand the position and who and what you are. Hopefully, he can do that.”
Mitrovic was reportedly involved in a dressing room confrontation after Serbia’s 4-1 defeat to Czech Republic during the international defeat,
Asked about his performance against Leicester, McClaren said: “We have talked a lot about the disruption of the international break and players being away,.
“It is a lot of hullabaloo and also a lot of rubbish and no excuse. That’s what football is. Sometimes it’s not all fine weather and going your away.
“Sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up and this is a time when we have to do exactly that.”
Meanwhile, Mitrovic has been forced to defend himself amid accusations in his native Serbia that he is overweight.
Mitrovic, signed from Belgian club Anderlecht, says he has had to bulk up since joining Newcastle so he can better compete physically in the Premier League.
l Referee Stuart Attwell will take charge of tomorrow’s game.