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Gateshead seal loan signing of Middlesbrough youngster

Steve Watson has got his man!
Steve Watson has got his man!

Gateshead have confirmed the signing of Middlesbrough striker Luke Armstrong.

Armstrong - the son of former Middlesbrough striker and current Blyth Spartans Manager, Alun - joins the Heed on a season-long loan deal from the Championship side.

And boss Steve Watson is delighted to have landed a player that he has been an admirer of for several years.

Finding a striker has been a priority for the Gateshead boss and, after weeks of negotiation, he has finally landed his man in Armstrong.

The 22-year-old began his career at Boro before later teaming-up with Birmingham City and Cowdenbeath.

But the striker really hit his stride after joining Blyth in 2016, netting 23 times in his debut season to fire Spartans to promotion to the National League North.

That fine form saw him catch the eye of Middlesbrough, who brought Armstrong back to the club to form part of their under-23 side.

He netted three times in as many Checkatrade Trophy outings last season, and will now look to prove his worth as part of Watson's new-look Gateshead side.

It's a deal that the Heed manager was keen to get done and, after several weeks, he's delighted to have sealed the deal.

"The striking position we've been working long and hard on all summer and Luke has been someone we've been hoping to get in for maybe three weeks now," said Watson.

"Middlesbrough obviously rate him very highly and are going to be careful about who they loan him out to but we all agreed in the end that it would be a very good move for both ourselves and Luke with the way we're going to try and play and the player he is.

Armstrong is well-known to Watson, who first cast eyes over the frontman during his time at Birmingham City.

Since then, the Heed boss believes he has gone from strength-to-strength and he knows that the Middlesbrough man will offer plenty to his side this season.

"I've known him for a number of years," he admitted.

"When he first came across to Birmingham City, he was probably a little bit young and raw back then particularly for Championship level but you could see his attitude and work ethic were fantastic.

"He's very hungry and comes from a footballing family with his Dad, Alun.

"Since then he's only got better and he will only get better simply because of his attitude and his willingness to put the miles in and get himself goals.

"He's exactly the type of player we want and we're delighted that it's over the line.

"He'll bring a great work ethic from the front. We had lots of different types of striker last season but Luke is someone who can work the channels, hold the line and stay central.

"He's the type of player that won't give the defenders a moments peace and hopefully, we can create enough chances to get him plenty of goals as well.

"As I've said all along, the main thing for me when you bring in younger players is their attitude, desire and knowing what's needed of them in this league and with Luke, it's not even a gamble."