EDDIE HOWE claims Sean Longstaff has what it takes to be a future captain of Newcastle United – and has brushed off suggestions from his predecessor, Steve Bruce, that the midfielder ‘lacks maturity’.

Bruce took over at St James’ Park at a time when Longstaff had just broken into Newcastle’s first team and was being linked with a possible move to Manchester United.

However, he rarely named the North Shields-born midfielder in his starting line-up during his time on Tyneside and claimed in an interview earlier this week that a lack of maturity was an issue.

Bruce said: “I inherited Sean at a time where a big-money move to Manchester United was on the cards. Newcastle were turning down a colossal amount of money and that was swirling around at the time. But Sean’s move to Man United was never close.

“Not everybody is going to like you, and I never expected him to. It’s never given as a manager. There were times when Sean needed to mature and he has done. He’s proven to be a very good player.”

Howe was not aware of the specifics of Bruce’s comments, but was quick to point out that he had never had any issues with Longstaff’s character or maturity. In fact, the exact opposite was the case.

The Magpies boss said: “I am unaware of any comments (from Bruce). It’s difficult for me to comment on that, but Sean has been outstanding for us.

“I have really got on well with him on a personal level. I have found him very passionate about Newcastle United and that is one of the things I love about him.


“If we had an Under-21 game at any time of day, he would be there supporting the younger players coming through. I love that aspect of his personality that he cares about Newcastle United.

“And he hasn't forgotten his roots either. He's never forgotten where he came from, and he wants to give back. He is top drawer.”

Longstaff is touch and go for this afternoon’s home game with Chelsea as he has been struggling with an ankle injury.

His absence would be a major blow, with his importance having been underlined by Newcastle’s improvement since he returned to the starting line-up earlier this autumn.

Howe has been delighted with his performance level this season, and sees the 26-year-old as a potential future captain of his hometown club.

He said: “I think he is a leader to come here, I really do. He has a really nice way of speaking to the players in an authoritative way and with high intelligence levels.

“He can articulate himself really well within the group. I think there is a leader in there, and in years to come, hopefully we can see that.”