Steve Bruce has a big decision to make on Elliot Anderson at Newcastle United
Elliot Anderson’s back on Tyneside after a good week away with England Under-19s.
The 18-year-old midfielder impressed during a week with Ian Foster’s squad which culminated with a 6-1 win over an Arsenal XI.
But is Anderson, promoted to the first-team squad early in the season by Steve Bruce, any closer to a place in Newcastle United’s matchday squad?
Bruce, United’s head coach, signalled his intention to lean more on experience than youth last month when asked about Anderson, who made his senior debut in January’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.
Certainly, Bruce needs experience, though some of the club’s most experienced players have offered the least on the pitch this season.
And there are strong arguments against fielding inexperienced players in key positions where a mistake could cost the team a goal.
Anderson, however, is a No.10, and Bruce has needed freshness – and fearlessness – in the final third of the pitch.
Bruce especially needed those qualities in the recent absence of Miguel Almiron through injury, but Anderson, an intelligent player with an eye for a goal, couldn’t get on the bench. Almiron returned as No.10 in the club’s damaging 3-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion before the international break.
“If I had to put him in, then I’d put him in, but he’s young and inexperienced,” said Bruce, who has also sidelined 21-year-old midfielder Matty Longstaff. “I think what I need at the moment, in particular, is all the experience that I can have to handle the situation we have. We’ve got a very good young player on our hands. Let’s not forget he’s only 18, 19.
"The same goes for Matty Longstaff, too. They’re both young in their development. It’s important that they have a few 90 minutes under their belt, and play for the Under-23s.
"But, look, he’s a very, very good young player, the kid. We know what he is, but, at the moment, I think I need to draw on all the experienced ones that I can who can handle the situation we’re in.”
Anderson may not be ready to start games, but it’s surely time he started making Bruce’s nine-man bench.
Anderson may already be good enough – and old enough – to make an impact.