Newcastle United made the decision during the January transfer window to keep hold of the club’s rising star Elliot Anderson, despite there having been interest in taking the attacking midfielder on loan.
The Magpies are reported to have turned down advances from a number of Championship clubs who were interested in taking the 18-year-old on loan for the rest of the campaign in January.
That decision denied Anderson the chance to go out and get some potentially vital first-team minutes under his belt during the rest of the campaign.
It was a decision that was something of a surprise given that Steve Bruce was actively looking to add to his midfielder options, eventually getting the signing of Joe Willock from Arsenal over the line.
That left the prospects of Anderson getting any minutes with the Magpies during the rest of the term looking very slim, with both Miguel Almiron and Willock ahead of him.
The exit from the FA Cup in the third round at Arsenal did not improve matters either, with Anderson having been handed the chance to impress at the Emirates by Bruce. However, cup games are now no longer an option for the 18-year-old to gain some real competitive match experience.
It has therefore looked like Anderson could spend the rest of the season not getting any regular first-team minutes that he would have been guaranteed with a loan move.
However, Newcastle have now been rocked by the double injury blow to Allan Saint-Maximin and Almiron, with both influential attackers now out for at least the rest of March.
Suddenly there could be a real opportunity for Anderson to come into Bruce’s thoughts for even a start in the coming matches against West Brom, Aston Villa and Brighton.
The 18-year-old had missed out on a place in the squad for the game against Wolves, and missed an under23s game against Reading this week through injury. However, according to a report from the Shields Gazette, Anderson is expected to be fit for the game against West Brom this weekend.
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Anderson’s timely return to fitness could prove to massive for both his own development and for the Magpies. The attacking midfielder could be well suited to the role vacated by Almiron in the current set-up. He will surely at least come into Bruce’s thinking when he picks the team.
However, it would be a brave decision to opt to play him from the start given it is such a massive game for the Magpies. Anderson though has plenty of talent and ability and you sense he is itching to be handed the chance to shine in the Premier League.
He would go out on the pitch without maybe some of the pressure felt by some of the club’s more senior players and might be a spark that Bruce needs in the side. From looking likely to spend the rest of the campaign wasted in the youth teams, it now looks like Anderson might be set to make a real first-team impression.