Eddie Howe's decision on Newcastle United's Elliot Anderson is a no-brainer – here's why
The teenager – who memorably helped Bristol Rovers win promotion last season – won the penalty scored by Chris Wood in tonight’s 1-0 win over Atalanta, which was played in front of a 40,596 crowd.
And head coach Eddie Howe – who is short of attacking options, and still looking to sign a striker and a winger in the summer window – has surely now seen enough to convince him that Anderson can be a useful squad player this coming season.
Howe, having split his squad ahead of tomorrow's home friendly against Athletic Bilbao, named a starting XI led by Kieran Trippier. Miguel Almiron, fresh from scoring two goals in Tuesday night's 3-2 defeat to Benfica at the Estadio da Luz, also started along with Dan Burn, Ryan Fraser and Chris Wood.
Anderson was handed his first senior home appearance by Howe, who has been impressed by him so far this pre-season.
Of note in the visiting team was Duvan Zapata, who has again been linked with Newcastle. Zapata had the first chance of the night. The striker turned in the box and shot at the near post, but Nick Pope was able to turn his effort over the bar.
Trippier and Matt Targett were both able to continue after periods of treatment, but the knocks they took weren’t the only concern for Howe, whose side struggled to make an impression in Atalanta’s half for 30 minutes.
United stepped up their efforts after the half-hour mark, and were ahead before the break. After a spell of pressure, Anderson was brought down in the box, and Wood stepped up to put Newcastle ahead from the penalty spot.
Howe’s side took their advantage into the break, and Anderson tested Marco Sportiello with a fine curling effort early in the second half. Anderson, playing on the right side of a midfield anchored by Sean Longstaff, was heavily involved in the game.
The 19-year-old came deep to take the ball off United’s defenders – and popped up in space in and around the box.
Anderson, crucially, was as much of a threat in the final third as any of his senior team-mates – and he was also a physical presence when United didn’t have possession. It's hard to see him being left out of Howe’s Premier League squad.
Atalanta made a number of changes just past the hour-mark, but Howe – who had an inexperienced bench – kept his starting XI on the pitch.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser without really creating any clearcut chances, and the longer the game went on, the harder it was to see the Serie A team equalising.
Newcastle, tiring late in the game, had retreated, but they looked comfortable. However, they didn’t trouble Atalanta in the final third of the pitch when they did take the ball.
Howe replaced Jacob Murphy with Matty Longstaff for the final eight minutes.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, S Longstaff (M Longstaff, 82), Anderson, Alrmion, Murphy, Fraser (Bondswell, 90), Wood (Stephenson, 90). Subs not used: Gillespie, De Bolle, Munoz, Turner-Cooke, A Murphy, Miley.