ADAM ARMSTRONG is set to make his home debut from the substitutes’ bench when Newcastle United entertain Manchester United this afternoon.
Having made his Premier League debut as a second-half replacement in last month’s 1-0 defeat at Fulham, Armstrong was unavailable for last weekend’s trip to Southampton as he was away on international duty with England under-17s.
The 17-year-old striker, who recently signed his first professional deal, scored as England beat Italy to qualify for this summer’s European Under-17s Championships in Malta earlier this week, with Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman also featuring in the side.
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Armstrong returned to Tyneside a couple of days ago, and having been left out of the development squad for Thursday’s trip to Southampton, will be among the substitutes as Newcastle’s senior side take on the reigning Premier League champions at St James’ Park.
“Adam comes back into the squad,” confirmed Pardew. “He was terrific against Italy. England were overjoyed with him, and Freddie also made a great save. They won 2-1 and qualified, so that’s great for them.
“Adam’s got his tail up. I’m sure before the end of the season, the fans are going to see a bit more of him. Whether it’s against Man United, we’ll have to wait and see.”
While Armstrong patiently waits for a chance at one end of the field, Rob Elliot has been enjoying an extended run in the side at the other.
The 27-year-old emerged from last weekend’s thrashing at Southampton with credit despite the concession of four goals, but with Tim Krul expected to be available next weekend, today’s game could well prove his final outing of the season.
Krul’s future will be a subject of considerable debate this summer, with a number of leading sides having been linked with a possible move for the Dutch international. That could have major repercussions in terms of Elliot’s future, but whatever happens in the close season, Pardew accepts that the former Charlton trainee will no longer be satisfied with a lengthy spell in the shadows.
“He’s got himself into a position where he's got closer to Tim,” said the Magpies manager. “That's what you want at a club. There's no point in a Formula One team where the number one isn't pushed every week by the number two - and that's exactly what Rob's doing.
“He's been a great player for us, and he isn't that old. This match will be a big one for Rob because Tim will be fit next week.
“Rob will want regular football, and he's an international (with the Republic of Ireland) as well now. His ambition is to stay in that international group, and there's a push from him to try and stay as number one. But in my mind at the moment, Tim's still the number one.”