Birmingham boss Lee Clark has spoken of his desire to have Newcastle’s Shane Ferguson return to St Andrews next season. The Northern Ireland international has been on loan at the Championship outfit since February and is due to return to Newcastle on the 1st of April.
“Whether it’s possible, I don’t know. Shane is very highly rated by Newcastle and has just signed a long-term contract there. But it is definitely something to talk about between the two clubs.”
“From my point of view, Shane is a Premier League quality player. He has done very well already in the short space of time he has been here and I think he’s enjoyed himself, going out and getting regular competitive football.”
“If it is doable, then of course I’d love to have him back, for the season if possible. There is no chance of anything permanent, they hold him in such hold regard.” (Lee Clark speaking to Sky Sports News)
Ferguson has made four league appearances already in his brief spell at Birmingham, and it can only be benefiting the youngster to be getting this first team football. But what would be the best plan of action for him?
With Newcastle’s January signings it’s highly unlikely Ferguson will be adding to his 14 appearances for the Magpies anytime soon. A loan deal to another club in the Premier League may be the ideal option, but it’s unlikely he’s ready to hit the first team of any top-flight sides just yet. However, the Championship is a good standard and he can learn a lot from plying his trade their for a season. It would also help his International ambitions to be playing regularly.
The big question is whether Shane will ever make the grade at Newcastle. While Graham Carr and his scouting team continue to look across the channel for talent, he will struggle to make an impact. The additions of young defenders Yanga-Mbiwa and Haidara won’t help his cause of playing in the left back role, with Davide Santon already the first choice. Arguably he faces an even great struggle to break into the side in a role as a winger, with Marveuax and even Amalfitano seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order along with the regular first choice options of the likes Gutierrez and Ben Arfa.
Therefore Newcastle have a decision to make, and they might as well make it soon.
As Lee Clark does point out, he’s held in high regard at St James’ Park, but it’s time for Newcastle to really decide what they believe Ferguson can achieve in the future.
If they are confident in his ability, then first team football is essential. However, they can’t keep farming him out for years to come, so if Ferguson does partake in a season-long loan next season expect him to be back the year after fighting for a place. The manner in which Dan Gosling is dwelling in the reserves after such a promising start to his career is testament to how important the next few years are for Ferguson.
What do you think the future holds for youngster Ferguson? Will he be a St James’ regular for years to come? Get in touch with the debate, either via the comments section below or on Twitter.
By Harry Aitkenhead