CURLE IS TOP BOSS FOR TEEN ACE ALEX

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Nick Lough

FLY­ING the nest with the bur­den of be­ing one of Bri­tain’s elite teenage tal­ents, Alex Gil­liead has it all to prove dur­ing his loan spell at Carlisle United – but he isn’t feel­ing the pres­sure one bit as he comes to terms with the rough and tum­ble of League Two.

“I knew it was go­ing to be phys­i­cal be­cause there is a lot rid­ing on the matches as it’s three points and I’ve never re­ally been in the sit­u­a­tion where those things re­ally mat­ter,” the 19-yearold New­cas­tle United striker told The FLP.

“There’s a lot more fit­ness in­volved. I didn’t think the play was go­ing to be as quick and the stan­dard is bet­ter than I ex­pected.

Bet­ter

“I thought it was go­ing to be a case of kick­ing it long all the time but a lot of man­agers in League Two want to play foot­ball and pass the ball about the park.”

Bor­rowed by the Cum­bri­ans along­side Toon team-mate Macau­lay Gille­sphey to aid their push to­wards the play­offs, Gil­liead has taken to the divi­sion like a duck to wa­ter af­ter ce­ment­ing a start­ing role in man­ager Keith Curle’s eleven over the past few weeks.

The England U19 in­ter­na­tional praised his new boss for the way he has helped the duo set­tle at their new club, high­light­ing his calm­ness and un­der­stand­ing.

Gil­liead said: “I love him! He is the per­fect man­ager for me and he’s very funny – he used to play for England and I rep­re­sent them at youth level so he al­ways cracks the jokes that we are both in­ter­na­tion­als.

“He is a top man­ager be­cause he just tells me ‘go ex­press your­self’ and to en­joy the game as I won’t get th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties all the time. “He is good with me and Macau­lay be­cause if we do make mis­takes he tells us not to worry be­cause ev­ery­one makes mis­takes.”

The Shot­ley Bridge-born young­ster has brought at­tack­ing flair and crafty drib­bling to the Cum­bri­ans af­ter record­ing two goals and two as­sists from his open­ing seven league games for the club.

Af­ter prov­ing pop­u­lar amongst the Brun­ton Park faith­ful, Gil­liead saw his 28-day loan ex­tended for the re­main­der of the 2015-16 cam­paign.

“I just want to en­joy play­ing foot­ball and get around 20-30 games un­der my belt over the sea­son,” he said. “It’s my first move away from New­cas­tle and it’s a big step up be­cause it’s men’s foot­ball.

“I just want to carry on do­ing well and help the team. Hope­fully I can help them get pro­moted or to the play-offs as I think they’re good enough to do it.”

Gil­liead’s also had a taste of the big time as the Cum­bri­ans took Liver­pool to a penalty shoot-out in the Cap­i­tal One Cup.

Goosebumps

“Walk­ing out when they were singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ gave me goosebumps, and when it got to the 60th minute and the man­ager shouted for me to go on I just thought… ‘wow’.

“I thought I was go­ing to be ner­vous but I was al­right. You’re play­ing against th­ese big names but I wasn’t re­ally starstruck, more like ‘that’s him off the telly!’

“It was hard both phys­i­cally and men­tally and you have to be switched on, but I thought abil­i­ty­wise I did enough to han­dle it.

“It was the kind of stage where you have to grow and not shrink away, and the phys­i­cal­ity will come with age and ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The teenager has some ma­jor de­ci­sions to make in his ca­reer over the next eight months with his con­tract at New­cas­tle ex­pir­ing in June – but, for now, the boy­hood Mag­pies fan just wants to keep notch­ing up games and goals for his adopted club.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

TEEN STAR: Alex Gil­liead in New­cas­tle United colours and, in­set, his fel­low ‘in­ter­na­tional’, boss Keith Curle

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