CHRIS DUNLAVY

Coven­try’s Adam Arm­strong needs to be tough with the Toon

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - Chris Dunlavy

TWELVE goals, likened to Ser­gio Aguero and called up by England U19s – no won­der New­cas­tle fans want Adam Arm­strong back from Coven­try. The lit­tle striker has bagged the same num­ber of goals as the en­tire Toon squad put to­gether and, aged just 18, is cur­rently the high­est scorer in English foot­ball.

“He does re­mind me of Aguero,” said Coven­try loa­nee Joe Cole this week. “That’s a big state­ment but he’s got that stocky stature. He turns and twists and he can fin­ish. He just needs to keep de­vel­op­ing and keep mov­ing.”

Pro­tege

The ques­tion is, would that cause be helped by a re­turn to St James’ when his loan ex­pires in Jan­uary? Un­less he is handed a gen­uine chance by Steve McClaren, the an­swer is no.

We’ve all seen the de­press­ing tra­jec­tory of youth ‘de­vel­op­ment’ in the Pre­mier League. Young lad gets hyped, man­ager gives him the odd ten min­utes or a League Cup start then, when he fails to beat six men and score, dumps him in the re­serves. Next thing you know, he’s 22 and at St Mir­ren.

Arm­strong can­not al­low that fate to be­fall him, as it did his pal Adam Camp­bell, a one-time Toon pro­tege now re­build­ing his ca­reer at Notts County.

“I had to leave,” Camp­bell told me this year. “Even if I’d been of­fered an­other year, it would have been a year of the same treat­ment – no guid­ance, loaned out here, there and every­where. Then I’m a year older and my ca­reer is slip­ping away.”

Nor can he per­mit him­self to be­come the next Haris Vuc­kic; signed by New­cas­tle in 2009, loaned out all over the shop and who, at 23, re­mains as far from the first-team as ever.

When he walks into McClaren’s of­fice in Jan­uary, Arm­strong must say ‘I start games, I play reg­u­larly, or I go’.

Too bold? Maybe if he was look­ing to over­haul Alan Shearer. But those days are long gone.Now the com­pe­ti­tion is one-sea­son won­der Papiss Cisse and walk­ing red card Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic.

When Coven­try boss Tony Mow­bray re­marked that “who­ever’s play­ing for New­cas­tle must be a hell of a player to keep this kid out”, he un­in­ten­tion­ally pil­lo­ried every­thing that’s wrong with the Pre­mier League and its love af­fair with for­eign play­ers.

Yes, he is only 18, but so what? Bay­ern Mu­nich’s Kings­ley Co­man is eight months older but it didn’t stop him rip­ping Arse­nal to pieces in mid­week. Dele Alli was play­ing in League One for MK Dons last term .Trusted by Spurs gaffer Mauricio Po­chet­tino, he has flour­ished in the top flight and won a first England cap. Age is a num­ber. Tal­ent is what mat­ters – and Arm­strong has plenty.

Cow­ardly

If McClaren is will­ing to recog­nise that, great. If he isn’t, Arm­strong should de­mand a re­turn to Coven­try. And if the first­team doesn’t beckon within 12 months, he should turn his back on New­cas­tle for good.

All play­ers dream of the big time. But too many play­ers fes­ter in Pre­mier League re­serves whilst cow­ardly man­agers sign cut-rate filler.

And as they wait vainly for a chance, play­ers like Alli and Jamie Vardy are tough­en­ing up and hon­ing their skills in the lower leagues.

Arm­strong would be much bet­ter served fol­low­ing in their foot­steps than gambling his fu­ture on a bro­ken sys­tem that’s al­ready failed too many of our kids.

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