Pulis impressed with Newcastle's Longstaff
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis says he has been thoroughly impressed with the rapid rise of Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff.
Longstaff made his senior debut in the Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool and has managed to establish himself as a regular first-team starter ever since, making a further seven top-flight appearances.
The 21-year-old has formed a successful partnership alongside Isaac Hayden in the heart of midfield and the local star is keeping the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Ki Sung-yeung out the side.
Pulis was present at St James' Park on Tuesday as the Magpies defeated Burnley 2-0 and the Boro boss, who was impressed by Longstaff's display, has urged the Englishman to stay grounded.
"I thought he did exceptionally well. He and Hayden controlled that midfield. First class," he said. "In front of the three centre-halves, those two dropped in between them and really made them nice and solid.
"I think the most important thing is to keep his feet on the ground and make sure he understands it is not about 12 games, it is about playing 200, 300 games.
"To do that, you have to be really dedicated and keep your performance levels up. Not only keep the levels up but improve on them as well. Young players get so much, so early, whether it is praise or money or whatever it is.
"The attitude of the lad and with a manager like Rafa – and Rafa is a really decent fella – I am sure he will keep his feet on the ground and make the kid realise he has a long way to go to establish himself at a top club in one of the top leagues in the world."
James Mason grew up in Northumberland so is entrenched in both the football and golf scenes. A low handicap golfer, he also follows Newcastle United and predicts big things under Rafa Benitez.