TOM COLLOMOSSE: Once compared to Maradona, Elliot Anderson is the local lad trying to break through at mega-rich Newcastle… at Nottingham Forest, he showed why he can follow Shearer’s path
- Elliot Anderson had a big impact in Newcastle’s 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest
- The youngster came off the bench to score, before VAR ruled it out for offside
- The 20-year-old has brilliant potential and has been compared with Maradona
For a club with seemingly limitless wealth, it is extremely refreshing to see Newcastle turn to a local lad who has been with the club since he was eight.
Elliot Anderson’s potential is no secret – he was even compared to Diego Maradona by Joey Barton during a loan spell at Bristol Rovers last season – but during Friday’s win at Nottingham Forest there were tantalising signs that he can fulfil it.
After replacing Allan Saint-Maximin for the second half, Anderson was a constant threat. He frightened defenders with his pace and saw a superb volley tipped over by Keylor Navas.
He was desperately unlucky to have a fine header ruled out by a marginal VAR call against Sean Longstaff, meaning the 20-year-old is still waiting for his first Premier League goal.
Anderson has been troubled by injury during his young career but if he can put those problems behind him, the future looks bright.
Newcastle starlet Elliot Anderson thought he’d scored his first goal for the club on Friday
The 20-year-old scored a leaping header in the second-half before VAR ruled it out for offside
Eddie Howe insisted that Anderson ‘repaid’ the faith that was shown to him against Forest
‘Allan Saint-Maximin was struggling with a tight hamstring so I decided to go with Elliot and he repaid me,’ revealed Newcastle boss Eddie Howe. ‘He did really well.
‘With the quality of our squad, it is never going to be easy to break in. You can play well in youth football and look an outstanding talent but breaking through into the Premier League is incredibly difficult.
‘We are a top team with top players in his position so he is competing to try to make that breakthrough. This is the hardest part of his Newcastle career. Can he make that next step on a consistent basis? He certainly did himself no harm against Forest.
‘His best position is out wide at this moment but in the future maybe he will play more centrally. That versatility is massive for us at the moment.’
Anderson collected a huge pay rise when he signed a long-term deal at St James’ Park last September, following a superb stint at Bristol Rovers when he struck eight times in 21 games to help Barton’s men win promotion to League One.
Barton is not shy of an outlandish remark yet nor does he give praise easily, so his assessment of Anderson last March is worth revisiting.
He said: ‘I was listening to recordings of [former Liverpool boss] Bill Shankly. He talked a lot about a 19-year-old Diego Maradona and how he slows down in the penalty area, exactly like Elliot Anderson does.
Anderson wheeled away in celebration towards the travelling fans at the City Ground
Bristol Rovers manager, and former Magpie, Joey Barton was full of praise for Anderson
‘Elliot is such a talent. He excites you. He’s a cracking player. Big future ahead.’
Anderson certainly has the pedigree. He took his early steps with Wallsend Boys Club, who count Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Michael Carrick among their former players, and has represented both England and Scotland at youth level.
He has been capped by Scotland Under-21s. If he keeps improving, the time will soon come when he has to make a decision on his international future.
Now Newcastle are such a financial powerhouse, players like Anderson become even more important. Fans love a hometown hero. If Anderson can keep building on his Forest display, he might just become one.
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