Newcastle United's 'talented' ex-Sunderland player was ‘close to playing’ against Manchester City

Jay Turner-Cooke was “close” to being involved against Premier League leaders Manchester City – after being promoted to Newcastle United’s first-team squad.

The teenage midfielder travelled with the senior team for yesterday’s game at the Etihad Stadium, which ended in a 5-0 defeat for Eddie Howe’s side.

“His role was to see and experience Manchester City, really, and see an away game experience at one of the best teams in the world,” said United’s head coach.

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“So it would have done him the world of good to see him from afar and take it all in. I think he’s a real talent, a player with very good technical ability.

“With the injuries to Jonjo and Joe Willock, he’s close to playing. He was close to being involved, because we’re running out of midfielders. Those two players have injuries, and they’ll keep him out for the rest of the season.”

Turner-Cooke, a regular for the club’s Under-23 side, had impressed Howe after being called up to train with Howe’s first-team squad.

Howe told NUFC TV: “He’s trained very well with us. He’s been with us for probably a couple of weeks for training and done very well.”

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Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe at the Etihad Stadium.

Turner-Cooke joined Newcastle last year after asking to leave Sunderland following his father John Cooke’s controversial departure. He is under contract at the club until next year.

At the time, Turner-Cooke tweeted: “Proud moment signing a professional contract at @NUFC. Hard work continues. Thank you to the players and staff at @SunderlandAFC for the last seven years, good luck for the future.”

Cooke – who gave Sunderland 35 years of service as a player and kitman – was let go without any public acknowledgement, and his son revealed his feelings about the club’s conduct in a strongly-worded tweet.

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South Shields are staging a testimonial match in honour of Cooke – who Sunderland between 1979 and 1985 and served as kit manager between 1994 and 2020.

Newcastle United's Jay Turner-Cooke in action against Liverpool earlier this season.

Cooke said: “The response to this event from everyone has been overwhelming, and given me a tremendous lift. I look forward to celebrating with former players and friends – and thank those who wish to support the event.”