It could be Fergie time at Newcastle United

By Lee Ryder on Mar 7, 11 08:29 AM

They don't come much more fresh faced than Shane Ferguson in the Newcastle United locker room.

Still just 19, here is a player who has so far stepped up into life in the first team and not looked like a fish out of water when pulling on a black and white shirt.

Those who have braved the cold and wet weather at Whitley Park watching the reserves won't need to be told just what an exciting talent Fergie is.

I don't need to raise the expectations for Ferguson or put pressure on a player that has already be hailed as a future star at St James' Park by Alan Pardew.

Peter Beardsley, a huge admirer of the skilled players in the game, also loves the Northern Ireland teenager.

As much as we all love Chris Hughton, I actually think Pardew will throw Ferguson the chances he would have had to wait for under his previous boss.

It's what he can bring to the table that most people will be interested in and this left-back/left winger is certainly different.

He reminds me of a young Denis Irwin.

Small, compact, tidy and bloody reliable.

And in a football world that is dominated by egos, I can tell you now that Fergie doesn't have one.

In fact there aren't too many footballers who possess his unique unassuming attitude that has helped propel him to first team life.

The big question would be if Jose Enrique does seek pastures new this summer, will Ferguson be able to slot straight into his place?

That's one I'm afraid, nobody can really answer without the benefit of a crystal ball.

What you could say is, that Ferguson will give it everything he's got, not get ahead of himself and continue his "willing to learn" attitude that already makes him a full Northern Ireland international.

In the United Kingdom we are guilty of building people up and then knocking them down without a care in a cruel uncompromising environment.

This has basically triggered an identity crisis at international level for all the home nations with England at least overlooking, where possible, form players like Joey Barton in favour of squeaky clean characters like Theo Walcott.

When we're talking squeaky clean, I think that Ferguson just about fits into that category and the worst offence he seems capable of is staying up too late playing Xbox Live.

It's comforting to know that Ferguson is on our books and that, in terms of players coming through, there is life after Andy Carroll.

Ferguson does not have the same glamour factor as Carroll of course.

And while he's still 19, he doesn't have the experience either, if Enrique stays there is every chance he could go out on loan next season.

His slight frame is also a cause for concern with Newcastle building him up and Pardew joking he's on a "steak and milk" diet.

But he's raw and exciting and the way he glides past opposing is something I think Newcastle fans would like to see a lot more of.

His other big quality is his toughness despite looking like he weighs 10 stone soaking wet!

He's already stood up to Ramires this season after the Brazilian attempted what looked like GBH on the player at Chelsea in the Carling Cup and then West Ham's Ben Haim judged a book by its cover in the 5-0 hammering of the East End side at St James' Park this season, with Ferguson not taking any flak.

He's also got some quality crossing ability in his locker and an eye for goal.

Should Pardew be without Enrique for the trip to Stoke on Saturday week, he could very well play it safe.

He could switch Danny Simpson to left-back or even go with James Perch.

Or he could play Shane Ferguson.

If it is Fergie time at the Britannia, there won't be too many complaints from Toon fans already impressed with his offerings thus far.

If he can keep it up, he could bring a whole different meaning to the term Fergie time.

Follow me on Twitter@ lee_ryder


jimmy said:

ferguson was m.o.m against but he,s not on your list to vote for...!


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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