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Xisco must force the issue if he wants to salvage anything from Toon career

By Lee Ryder on Oct 25, 12 10:29 AM


Nobody who was present at Whitley Park to witness Xisco dramatic hat-trick against Stoke City reserves genuinely expected to see the Spaniard jump into Newcastle United's starting XI against Brugge tonight in the Europa League.

We all know football isn't as easy that.

In fact as romantic as the idea of Xisco ever adding to the one goal he scored at first team level on his debut, the Spanish striker has the odds stacked against him in many ways at United.

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Indeed, as I Tweeted straight after the game, if he plays another minute at first team level it would be considered a major turnaround.

That didn't stop him getting a standing ovation from the 221 people who turned out to see him and it didn't stop him trending on Twitter in the UK for a couple of hours.

It also didn't stop an incredible amount of people logging on to Chroniclelive to read his interview the next day.

He is here on Tyneside until at least January and while it was interesting to hear Xisco's side of the story after 18 months of uncertainty, perhaps the biggest impression he made was his professional attitude.

Yes, I can already hear people saying: "But he's a professional, surely he should be acting in that way anyway?"

However, in my experience it isn't as simple as that.

For a start I could name at least 12 players who would refuse to even play for the reserves from years gone by.

It would also be easy to mope around the training ground and go through the motions.

But the feedback I've received is that XIsco is simply keeping his head down and trying his best to catch the eye of the manager.

Indeed when Adam Campbell tells you that Xisco is: "As important as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse in the dressing room", it indicates that the former La Liga goal-getter has tapped into the training ground ethos of hard work.

What was also noteworthy was Xisco's decision to sit on the bench after being subbed so he could cheer on his young team-mates, quite often senior players disappear up the tunnel to be first in the shower before heading home before the game is complete.

Don't forget Albert Luque once played 11 minutes of a reserve game and then went home!

And when you've witnessed players in the past 10 years simply picking up their wages and happy to find any excuse they can to mope around, Xisco's words are refreshing.

And as Xisco stood in the lashing rain after the reserve game with Stoke it was obvious that this was a player that cared about his football and knew what it meant to pull on a Newcastle United jersey.

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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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