Longstaff hails Benitez impact
Sean Longstaff is hoping boss Rafael Benitez will help him progress into Newcastle's first-team after penning a new four-year deal.
The 21-year-old midfielder committed his future to St James' Park until 2022 in December and made his Premier League debut on Boxing Day.
He came off the bench in the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool and also started Saturday's 1-1 FA Cup draw with Blackburn.
And Longstaff, who scored nine goals in 45 games on loan at Blackpool last season, feels Benitez is crucial to his development.
He said: "It's a massive step to go from League One to the Premier League. You basically have to go be an international footballer and if you're not you need to be the highest quality. The level is ridiculous.
"I'm trying to learn from the manager and he's helping me bridge the gap.
"He is one of the top managers in the world so for him to see I've got a little bit of ability and he likes enough to give me a new deal is great for my confidence.
"He's managed some of the biggest clubs in the world and the trophies he's won back that up.
"For the first six months of the season it's been the best place for me to be, learning from the players and the manager. I've improved so much.
"I'll speak to Newcastle and see what the plan for the second half of the year is. For the minute the manager sees enough in me to keep me around, that's all the incentive I need."
Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.