Loan spell made me a better player, says Sean
Written by Tom Easterby
Having opened his goalscoring account for 2017/18 in Monday night’s 2-1 win over Darlington, Newcastle United’s teenage midfielder Sean Longstaff believes his loan spell at Kilmarnock last season has made him a better player.
Longstaff was part of the Magpies’ Under-23 side that saw off the challenge of the Quakers, and the 19-year-old took just eight minutes to find the back of the net, firing home after racing on to Callum Smith’s pass.
Ivan Toney grabbed a second just minutes later, and though a trialist pulled one back for the hosts, Peter Beardsley’s youngsters held on to claim victory in their first pre-season outing.
It was Longstaff’s first appearance in a United shirt since returning from a half-season loan spell with Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock last term, where he made 17 appearances, scoring three goals.
And he says the temporary move, which he made alongside fellow Magpies players Freddie Woodman and Callum Roberts, aided his development both on and off the pitch.
“I enjoyed my five or six months up there - I think me, Freddie and Cal can all come back and say we’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve all come back better players and better people,” Longstaff told nufc.co.uk.
“For me, it was the first time living by myself, and not having my mam there to cook my food! It was just a great learning curve on and off the pitch, and obviously when you’re getting to play against Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Aberdeen – the big teams – you can only improve as a player.
“Being around the likes of Kris Boyd, Gary Dicker, Stevie Smith, established professionals, was great and it just gives you that little taste of it.
“Being around a first team is brilliant anywhere out on loan, but obviously ultimately you want to come back and do it at Newcastle.”
Longstaff played the first 45 minutes on Monday, before football development manager Beardsley opted to field a different 11 in the second half.
Having turned in an assured display in the number ten role, Longstaff said it was a pleasure for him to be back playing alongside the players he’s grown up alongside.
“It was really enjoyable. I said to Dan (Barlaser) and Jack (Hunter) before the game, as the midfielders, that it was great to be back playing with the lads,” he said. “In all seriousness, it actually is – they’re your mates, and obviously you want to be out on loan and testing yourself against the best, but it’s always great to come back, play and get your fitness back with them.
“It’s always nice to score. It was a great pass by Cal. I thought we could have had a few more – every time we went forward, we did look like we were going to score. At the other end, we weren’t too great at the back – we were a bit disappointed with their goal and how it came about.
“But overall, I think it’s just about getting the fitness, and it doesn’t matter really if you score in the pre-season games – it’s about what happens during the season, when the proper games start.”
Longstaff could again feature when the Under-23s head to Gateshead on Saturday afternoon to continue their preparations ahead of the new campaign.
And he says he still hasn’t ruled out to possibility of another loan spell in the coming season, as he aims to build on the strides he made last term.
“For me personally, it’s probably to go back out on loan and hopefully prove I can do it again and that it wasn’t just a fluke at Kilmarnock,” he said.
“I’m still young so I just want to play as many games as possible and hopefully make the people at Newcastle take notice of what I’m doing, and then hopefully I might get a shot back at Newcastle.
“I’m only 19 now – I’ll be 20 when the season finishes – so I’m still young, and at the end of this year if I can say I’ve played this many first team games, that’s the aim and that can only stand me in good stead for the future.”
"It’s always nice to score. It was a great pass by Cal. I thought we could have had a few more – every time we went forward, we did look like we were going to score."