'Very promising' - How former Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton youngsters performed on Newcastle United debuts
Academy signings Charlie Wiggett, Remi Savage and Cameron Ferguson all made their debuts during Newcastle United’s 2-1 defeat to Harrogate Town – but how did they perform?
The trio penned contracts with the Magpies last month and officially donned the black and white shirt for the first time at the EnviroVent Stadium.
Our writer Jordan Cronin was at the game and has provided his thoughts on a promising first outing for the young players:
The Reading-born player partnered Bradley Cross at the heart of the defence for the opening 45 minutes.
During his time on the pitch, the 18-year-old was comfortable on the ball in what was a physical battle against the League Two side’s attack.
Corners were a particular strong point for Harrogate – which is how Connor Hall’s opener arrived – and naturally, Wiggett and his young United teammates faced difficulties with the aerial threat at times.
Interestingly, Wiggett spoke of wanting to be a leader when he arrived from Chelsea and he showed signs of that in North Yorkshire – constantly communicating with Cross and offering regular words of encouragement to everyone.
That was a big plus for a vocal Wiggett in what was vital experience against senior opposition having spent most of his time at Stamford Bridge in the under-18s set-up.
Hogg made 10 changes at half-time – the only surviving member being 40th-minute substitute Lucas De Bolle – with Savage slotting in alongside Oisin McEntee.
From the off, Savage had a comfortable and commanding presence and along with McEntee, they largely restricted the League Two outfit to shots outside the box.
The defensive pair, clearly more further forward in their development in terms of physically than some, marshalled the Harrogate attack well and were perhaps unlucky to concede late on.
It was the quick-thinking of former Leeds United man Jordan Stevens – down as a trialist for Town – that unlocked Savage and co as Aaron Martin slid home an 83rd-minute winner.
Liverpool rated Savage highly, hence why he was offered a one-year extension, and he looks to be Newcastle’s gain after a very promising debut.
There were no teamsheets at Harrogate but you didn’t need to look twice to recognise Ferguson as he waited for the second-half to kick-off.
Ferguson instantly stood out just purely because of his height – perhaps unsurprising given who his father is – and that’s some feat given he was being marked by a League Two defence that included giant former Northern Ireland international Rory McArdle.
We didn’t get to see much of Ferguson’s ability in the air, which is a testament to Hogg and the academy’s clear desire to implement a possession-based style.
But what that did highlight is Ferguson was more than happy to receive the ball into feet and pick out the runners around him.
Ferguson did just that for Newcastle’s equaliser – turning into space to pick out the run of 16-year-old Kyle Crossley on the left, who finished off the move with a fine run and finish into the far corner.
If he develops into anything like Duncan, then United have a real prospect on their hands.