There were always going to be a lot of changes at Newcastle United this summer after relegation, and the new signings they have made will excite fans. They have played one pre-season match to date with Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie both scoring on their debuts.
A new name to start against Bohemian was Jamie Sterry, who has been on the fringes of the first-team for a while, and it looks like he will the beneficiary of plenty of opportunities this summer.
Sterry is a Geordie who came through the youth academy, joining his boyhood club as a 10-year-old. He is now 20 and starting to break into the first team, with Rafael Benitez rating the youngster highly and set to give him some chances in defence.
His favoured position is right back, but he is capable of covering positions across the back four. In the first pre-season match of the campaign, he started at right back and with Daryl Janmaat’s future uncertain, he is likely to be the backup for Jesus Gamez this season.
The defender is living his family’s dream as well with his father having a promising football career as a youngster, before injuries cut it short. There were fears that Jamie might face a similar fate, after having to prove himself before being offered a scholarship, due to being out for almost a year with a back problem. He was obviously talented, but injuries threatened to hamper his development. Seeing him now on the fringes of the first team shows his determination, which will stand him in good stead going forwards.
Modelling his game on Dani Alves, Jamie Sterry is a full-back that likes to attack, as he demonstrated on Saturday by popping up with the assist for Matt Ritchie’s goal. He also recognises the importance of defending and his comments on nufc.co.uk show the maturity in his thinking about the game. He told the official site:
“I love attacking as much as defending,
“But defending a goal – stopping it on the line or whatever – is just as good as scoring a goal, even if the goal-scorers get most of the glory.”
He was granted his first-team debut against Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of last season. The fact that he was given this chance by Rafael Benitez shows that he is well liked by the manager. He told the club’s website after his debut:
“I’ve been learning so much. He (tells me) to work on the tactical side of the game, so I’ve been trying and have been speaking to him quite a bit about it,”
“He’s really helping, and he’s obviously given me the chance to play.
“I’m learning from Daryl (Janmaat) and Vurn (Vurnon Anita), who’s been playing at right back, and Dummy (Paul Dummett) as well who I’ve known for ages now and has helped me all the way. He was saying a few days ago ‘just be patient – it’ll come, even if it’s next year or the year after’, so I’m just really happy to have played the game.”
For the first time in a long time, it looks like Newcastle are going to provide a good environment for young players to develop. Rafael Benitez is an experienced manager, who knows how to manage a football club and now he has been given full control of footballing matters, the environment at the training ground and academy will be much improved.
Sterry has already mentioned how Benitez is helping him on the tactical side of the game, which is something that a lot of young English players lack.
The last time Newcastle played in the Championship, Andy Carroll thrived and came out of the season with a huge reputation. In Rolando Aarons, Adam Armstrong and Jamie Sterry, Newcastle have three players who will look to make a similar impact.
The advantage that Sterry has is that he is a defender, a position which Newcastle are short in, and in Benitez, he has the best coach to help him adjust to first team football. I expect him to play at least 15 times next season and depending on his performances, he could play even more.