Sean Longstaff's curious omission from Newcastle United's Villa Park squad
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The midfielder didn’t even make Steve Bruce’s bench at Villa Park on Saturday night.
Longstaff, thought to be fit, stayed behind on Tyneside, and was seen at the club’s training ground earlier that day.
And it remains to be seen whether the 23-year-old, tipped for England honours after breaking through under Rafa Benitez the season before last, will be involved in tomorrow night’s Premier League home game against Leeds United.
Bruce fielded Jonjo Shelvey and Jeff Hendrick – who have both struggled for form this season – in midfield against Aston Villa. Neither shone in a 2-0 defeat which left the club deeper in relegation trouble. Shelvey had kept his place after a particularly poor performance in the club’s 3-0 loss to Arsenal earlier in the week.
There were worse performers than Longstaff in the 1-0 defeat against previously-winless Sheffield United the week before last, so his absence since then is curious.
Meanwhile, Sean’s younger sibling Matty – who impressed on his recent run in the team – was an unused substitute for the Villa game.
The 20-year-old, under contract until next year after signing a new deal last summer, is a phenomenal athlete – and Newcastle certainly needed his energy and enthusiasm at Villa Park.
Bruce – who did not speak to written journalists at this morning's press conference – has another decision to make for the Leeds game, and surely his team, without a win in 10 games, will be strengthened by having at least one Longstaff in the starting XI.