Newcastle United fans had plenty to be pleased with from their opening day performance against Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst they may have lost the game, it was a performance that will give the Toon Army hope ahead of the new season.
But whilst the Newcastle first-team looks settled, there is one player in the under-23 field who will be hoping to force his way into Rafa Benitez’s thinking in the near future.
Liam Gibson started his first competitive game for Newcastle’s under-23s since May 2017 against West Brom yesterday evening.
Last May the left-back was looking ready to make the breakthrough at Newcastle. Former under-23 boss Peter Beardsley was saying he could make it to the top. He had just come off the back of an excellent 2016-17 campaign with the Newcastle youngsters and a first-team place seemed to be around the corner.
“If someone said you’d be back training a year today, I would have laughed at them. I was that depressed at the time, I didn’t even want to play football anymore. I was saying to my parents, my girlfriend and my brother, ‘that’s it – I’ll never be able to recover from this’.
“To be training and playing now is kind of surreal. I just feel dead lucky.”
However, last season was a nightmare for the youngster. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, the same condition that once afflicted Darren Fletcher so dramatically, Gibson underwent four operations last season and did not play a single game. A blood clot in his calf also laid him out for a period of time.
But he played 89 minutes yesterday as he continues his comeback. Newcastle fans will hope it is just the start and Gibson can push into the first-team one day.