ONE of the great things about football is that it is never too late to turn things around. Every training session represents an opportunity to catch the manager’s eye, every game provides a chance to make a positive impression and begin to change perceptions.

When Jacob Murphy returned for the start of pre-season training this summer, it was anticipated his stay on Tyneside would be a brief one. Having spent last season on loan in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday, and with Newcastle boss Steve Bruce boasting an abundance of midfield options and on the verge of signing Ryan Fraser to provide even more competition, it was expected that the 25-year-old would be leaving on another loan deal. Given his current contract is due to expire next summer, that would almost certainly have been that in terms of the winger’s Newcastle career.

Yet as pre-season progressed, so Bruce became increasingly impressed with Murphy’s attitude and approach. While other players in his peripheral position might have sulked, he knuckled down, accepting he had a point to prove. Introduced as a substitute in Newcastle’s Carabao Cup second-round game with Blackburn, he made a positive contribution to his side’s 1-0 win.

Still, though, he needed that one defining moment to transform his fortunes. Finally, on Wednesday, it felt as though it arrived.

A number of Newcastle players caught the eye in this week’s record-breaking seven-goal romp at Morecambe, but none shone as brightly or as unexpectedly as Murphy. From first minute to last, he tore up and down the right flank, puncturing holes in Morecambe’s threadbare defence and impressing with his slick dribbling and purposeful running.

He set up Miguel Almiron for Newcastle’s second goal with a slide-rule through ball, before finding the net himself as he danced past two defenders and curled a neat finish into the bottom corner.

He was the Man of the Match by quite some distance, and when Bruce was quizzed about his performance after the game, the Newcastle boss categorically ruled out allowing to leave before the transfer window shuts on October 5. Murphy, it transpires, is going nowhere. Instead, he will be challenged to build on his strong start to the season and start living up to the billing he was given when he first joined Newcastle in a £12m move from Norwich City in the summer of 2017.

“I feel like I have taken my chance, but I have to keep going,” said Murphy, in the wake of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win. “That is just one game – I know how I played, and I want to kick on.

“Hearing what the manager said gives me a lot of confidence. We have several conversations. He keeps telling me to be patient and work hard, which I have been doing, and I know when I get an opportunity, I have to perform.”

In fairness to Murphy, those opportunities have been few and far between during his Newcastle career so far.

Signing by Rafael Benitez, the winger’s first season at St James’ Park saw him make just 13 Premier League starts. The following campaign was even less productive, with three league starts in the first half of the season preceding a loan move to West Brom.

Last term, Murphy was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday, and while he scored nine goals for the Owls in the Championship, he was hardly banging down the door for a Premier League return.

After the events of this week though, he finds himself with a chance to prove himself in the top-flight, albeit with the caveat that he still faces a considerable battle to force himself ahead of the likes of Fraser, Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Jeff Hendrick in order to claim a regular place in the team.

“I want to keep getting opportunities to play for this club,” said Murphy. “I have developed my game and I am showing a lot more confidence.

“There will always be setbacks, and you deal with them. I have stayed grounded and worked hard on the training pitch, and I have given the manager food for thought.

“That was my aim – to get into the thinking for Spurs on Sunday. That is the manager’s decision, and I have to do performances like that to get into his mind.”