'He's a credit to the Academy' - Hayden discusses Longstaff's emergence
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Isaac Hayden believes that Sean Longstaff has given an indication of the strength of United’s youth set-up since his emergence in the Magpies’ starting XI.
After making his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup against Nottingham Forest in August, Longstaff came off the bench for his Premier League bow at Liverpool on Boxing Day, while he has now started four top-flight games in a row for Rafa Benítez’s side.
In the process, he has formed a promising partnership with Hayden. Though the average age of the pairing stands at just 22, United’s results in the time since they started playing together have been encouraging; the Magpies have got the better of both Cardiff City and Manchester City at St. James’ Park, while they lost narrowly to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur away from home.
Their display against the Citizens drew praise from Pep Guardiola last Tuesday night, and – speaking after Newcastle’s trip to Wembley on Saturday – Hayden applauded Longstaff for taking the chance afforded to him by boss Benítez.
“People say: ‘Is the Academy worth it?’ I came from an academy, he’s come from an academy and I think that they are worth persevering with – the players just need the opportunity,” he told nufc.co.uk.
“The manager’s given him the opportunity and he’s taken it. That’s a credit to him, and he’s been a credit to the Academy, I must say. It’s what every young player needs to do when they get given the chance.
“He’s going to be a really, really good player – as long as he keeps learning and keeps listening to the correct people. Physically, he’s unbelievable. He’s got a great grounding. He’s not slow, he’s powerful, he can win headers and he’s good on the ball. He’s a top, top quality young player and I like to help and play with young players.”
"People say: ‘Is the Academy worth it?’ I came from an academy, he’s come from an academy and I think that they are worth persevering with – the players just need the opportunity."