This Newcastle United player 'looked dreadful' a few weeks ago – now he's getting back to his best
Longstaff has had more downs than ups since his first run in the first team was ended by a serious knee injury in March last year when Rafa Benitez was manager.
That run in the team attracted the attention of Manchester United – and England manager Gareth Southgate.
It took the midfielder a long time to recover from that injury, and he found himself in and out of the team last season under Steve Bruce. There was also a “disappointing” red card at St James’s Park – and an injury three minutes after a goal against Bournemouth.
This season, Longstaff was laid low by a debilitating bout of tonsillitis. However, Longstaff was ready for Everton, who had been second in the Premier League when they arrived at St James’s Park for the behind-closed-doors game.
Those fans watching from home saw a composed performance from the Newcastle-born player, who moved the ball around the pitch intelligently and helped disrupt the visitors when United weren’t in possession.
“I nearly played him last week (in the 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers), you know,” said head coach Bruce. “But, to be fair, a couple of weeks ago after the tonsillitis he looked dreadful. So fair play to him.
“He’s played the way we know Sean can. There’s the standards of what we expect from him. I’m delighted with him. He was very, very good.”
Longstaff was very, very good alongside summer signing Jeff Hendrick, and, as Bruce said after the game, the challenge for him now is to stay fit – and replicate that performance week in, week out over the coming weeks.
Newcastle must also do their bit. A new contract for Longstaff has been on the agenda since his first-team breakthrough – and this must finally be addressed by the club’s hierarchy.