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Newcastle: Atsu targets personal improvement; Leeds keeper quotes; Gilliead targets first team

Christian Atsu could be in line to start this weekend in the absence of Matt Ritchie, who will be missing through suspension. The winger is on loan from Chelsea and will be trying to earn a permanent move over the coming months.

After unsuccessful loan spells with Everton and Bournemouth, it is good to see the Ghanaian playing regularly in English football. His pace and skill make him difficult to contain when he is in full flow.

He has told the Hartlepool Mail that he is working harder than ever and wants to add goals to his game:

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‘I want to score goals. I want to help the team in any way. I just want to be a better player in each and every aspect. I want to add more goals to my game. I want to improve in every area.’

These show the determination that the winger possesses and he has certainly made the most of his opportunities in the first team to date. He has only one goal, but he has looked threatening every time he is on the pitch. Atsu has been unlucky in hitting the woodwork on several occasions and will be hoping that his luck changes over the coming weeks.

Newcastle United have been labelled a Premier League team by Marco Silvestri, the Leeds United goalkeeper. The two teams will be coming head to head at Elland Road this month in one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season. Both sides remain in the EFL Cup, but Silvestri has suggested that Newcastle are a Premier League side in all but name.

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“As for the cup, however, that has now become very complicated because there are only two teams from the Championship, us and Newcastle – although Benitez’s team is first, and is already a Premier League team in my opinion.”

There have been a lot of comments like this coming out of other clubs in the Championship and there is a feeling that Newcastle are the best team in the league by some distance. Silvestri refers to Newcastle as ‘Benitez’s team’ which is accurate. T

he Spaniard has transformed the Magpies and they now look set to achieve promotion at the first attempt. That is by no means easy, despite the money that the club spent over the summer.

However, Benitez is completing the task in some style and starting to repair his reputation after his poor spell in charge of Real Madrid.

Alex Gilliead is one of the Newcastle players out on loan making a name for themselves. The winger is currently at Luton Town, and the ambitious League 2 club have talked about making his move permanent.

The 20-year-old is an impressive dribbler who looks to attack the defence at every opportunity. Despite the interest in him from Luton, Gilliead is still aiming to break into the Newcastle first team over the coming years.

When asked about Luton’s interest in making the move permanent, Gilliead said:

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“You can’t let them get to you too much. It’s obviously nice to hear it and it’s nice for people to say it, but I’ve got to keep my head down and keep working hard because I want to be in Newcastle’s first team.”

It is good that the youngster is ambitious and wants to break into the Newcastle first team, but it is going to be a difficult task for him. Newcastle are an improving club with a big squad, which will make it harder for youngsters to break into the first team.

Benitez has been working on the academy since taking the Newcastle job and will be watching for the progress of the youngsters already at the club, but it won’t be easy for Gilliead to make it at Newcastle.

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