Isaac Hayden reveals why Sean Longstaff is on another level at Newcastle United
Sean Longstaff hasn’t put a foot wrong since breaking into Newcastle United’s starting XI – but it seems his goal celebration went awry on Tuesday.
Longstaff netted in United’s 2-0 win over Burnley at St James’s Park.
And the 21-year-old, outstanding in recent weeks, is expected to make an 11th successive start against West Ham United at the London Stadium tomorrow.
Longstaff, promoted to the first-team squad last summer, has made a big impression on the field since his first Premier League start.
The “humble” Academy graduate – who spent last season on loan at League One Blackpool – has also made a big impression on his team-mates off the pitch.
“He’s a top lad – he’s so, so humble,” said Hayden, his midfield partner. “He’s so gracious in the way that he plays, so calm on the ball for his age. I think back to when I was 21. I know I was playing quite a bit, but that was in the Championship, and that’s a completely different level of football.
“For me, he’s been fantastic since he’s come in. To be fair to him, if you ask a lot of the lads from the start of the season, they would have said that (he would do well).
“He did really well in training pre-season. I think people saw in pre-season what he was about. He got given the chance and he’s taken it, which is credit to him and his family.”
Longstaff – who netted in last month’s FA Cup replay against Blackburn Rovers – started and finished a move against Burnley to open his Premier League account for the club.
The Newcastle-born player, however, ran away from his family to celebrate the strike.
“It was massive,” said Hayden. “He was saying some of his family sit that side of the stadium, and he was talking about running that way if he ever scored. But he ran the opposite way!”
Fabian Schar was also on target against previously in-form Burnley.
“It was very tough – long balls, second balls,” said Hayden. “We knew exactly what they’d be like. They’re a very good team. They’re effective in their own way, and their manager’s got them playing in their own way, and it suits them very well. They’re good side, but we showed our class, especially on the ball. We got the two goals, and 2-0 is a bit of a dodgy scoreline.
“You always want to get a third goal, but we defended well, especially when they brought (Peter) Crouch on. Second half, it was always going to be difficult.”
Newcastle are 13th in the table, and six points above the relegation zone, ahead of the game at the London Stadium, where Benitez’s side won 3-2 last season.
“We’ve got West Ham as the next focus,” said Hayden. “They’re doing quite well. At their place, it will be a difficult game.
“We can get confidence from last year when we went there and beat them at their place. Hopefully, we can do the same.”