By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Alan Pardew believes Newcastle United offers young players a "route" to first-team football, and has urged every starlet at the Club to use Shane Ferguson as inspiration of what they can achieve.
In the current squad, Shola Ameobi, Steven Taylor and Tim Krul have all progressed through the youth ranks on Tyneside to be regular names on Pardew's teamsheet, while the likes of Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic and James Tavernier are also showing early signs of carving out promising careers with the Magpies.
But it is the emergence of 21-year-old Ferguson which has particularly caught the manager's eye, with the Derry-born left-sided man excelling whenever called upon.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of Ferguson's 23 Newcastle appearances to date was being named in the the starting line-up against Manchester United last weekend - and not looking out of place either.
And Pardew insists fellow youngsters across the North-East should take note of his development.
"Fergie playing against Manchester United is not easy," said United's boss.
"In today's age, to come through an Academy and play against one of the top clubs in the country just goes to show you that there is a route.
"So for our Under 10s, right through to the Development squad, they can see that there is a path (to the first-team)
"You need to be good enough, you need to work and be committed, and Fergie has done that.
"Now his career can start building from that platform and that's what all young players in this region should try and aim to do if they want to be a footballer."