ADAM Armstrong has shown that if you’re good enough at Newcastle United, you’re old enough.
That’s the verdict of Dave Watson, the club’s Under-18s coach.
Armstrong made his senior debut in last weekend’s 1-0 Premier League defeat to Fulham.
The striker’s appearance at Craven Cottage – aged 17 years and 32 days – came just four days after he scored for Watson’s side in a FA Youth Cup tie.
United manager Alan Pardew was at St James’s Park to watch the 3-2 Youth Cup loss to Chelsea.
Pardew also named goalkeeper Jak Alnwick on the bench against Fulham, while midfielders Rolando Aarons and Lubo Satka travelled to London with the first-team squad.
And Watson believes there is a pathway from the club’s Academy to the first team for those that can back up their ability with attitude and application.
“It’s fantastic,” Watson said. “It shows the manager’s well aware of the lads that are doing well.
“He’s called Adam into the first-team squad for sessions and things like that.
“It shows that there’s a real path for the kids if they do well at this level.
“He sees them once a week. You can really progress.”
Armstrong – the club’s second-youngest Premier League debutant – has trained with the first team in recent months, and Watson has noticed the difference in his play.
“The higher standard you train at, the quicker you have to do things and the better you become,” said the former Everton defender. “It’s certainly shown in Adam’s game. His enthusiasm is fantastic.
“He’s a lot sharper, which he has to be against Premier League defenders.”
Armstrong could again be involved on Saturday when Crystal Palace visit St James’s Park.
Pardew is without the injured Loic Remy, and his striking options are limited.
Misfiring Papiss Demba Cisse – who hasn’t scored a league goal from open play in 11 months – is likely to again lead the line, though long-serving Shola Ameobi is pushing for a start.
John Carver, Newcastle’s assistant manager, believes Cisse needs a “scruffy” goal.
“Papiss wants to do the extra work,” said Carver. “He hasn’t sulked.
“When good goalscorers get that little bit of confidence, they get that first one, they sometimes hit the road. Maybe he needs a scruffy goal.”