PETER Beardsley’s paid Siem de Jong the ultimate compliment – by comparing the Newcastle United forward to himself!
De Jong came through a Under-21 Premier League game yesterday to put himself in the frame for a first-team comeback against Stoke City on Sunday.
The 25-year-old played 69 minutes of the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at the club’s training ground.
United legend Beardsley, now reserve-team manager, scouted de Jong while he was at Ajax.
And Beardsley feels Dutch international de Jong – who suffered a serious thigh injury in early September – will prove a huge asset to Newcastle.
“Siem’s a top footballer,” Beardsley said. “I watch him play, and I have to say – and it probably sounds big-headed – he’s a lot like I was.
“He does a lot of unseen work in putting people under pressure and closing them down.
“He has such a football brain – he’s a proper No 10. I’ve been very impressed – he’s a class act.
“I absolutely love him. I’ve been to watch him a couple of times at Ajax as a scout, if you like. He’s got a brilliant brain and can understand the game and slow it down and quicken it up.”
Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Gutierrez also topped up their fitness ahead of the Stoke game in front of watching head coach John Carver.
Gutierrez set up United’s early goal – scored by Tom Heardman – and played the full 90 minutes.
Kemar Roofe levelled for West Brom in the second half, and Newcastle were indebted to fit-again goalkeeper Jak Alnwick, who pulled off a series of saves to keep the visitors at bay.
Beardsley said: “They played well. Jak made some saves, but without being horrible to Jak, I said ‘that’s your job!’.
“In the last 20 minutes, there was only us that was going to win.
“We got stronger, and obviously once Siem and Gabby had done their time, if you like, we had a couple of fresh legs on.
“It livened us up again. It was a game that could have gone either way, but we’re happy with the draw.”