On Saturday Paul Huntington, our 19-year-old center back from Carlisle was obviously keen to impress in front of his folks and against the club that have expressed an interest in taking him on loan this season.
Paul of course came in last season during all the injuries and appeared 16 times for Newcastle (14 starts) and scored one goal. That goal was the equalizer he whipped in during that amazing game with Tottenham at White Hart Lane when we finally ran out 3-2 winners.
Paul is probably our next youngster to break into the big time with Newcastle. When you look at where Steven Taylor was a couple of years ago Paul is very close to that standard and after two dependable displays in pre-season he must have impressed Sam Allardyce with his potential.
However, with Sam wanting to being in one and possibly two additional center-backs – it may be difficult for Paul to get many games at Newcastle this season. He definitely needs games to continue his progression into a premiership player.
If we do get two new center-backs look for Paul to be sent out on loan for the season â€“ even though that may still be a tough decision for Sam to make.
Paul talked about Saturday’s game at Carlisle to the Evening Chronicle today:
â€œPre-season is more about fitness than anything else â€“ thatâ€™s where the emphasis is.â€œBut for me to get 40 minutes or so is good. It was a good workout and I enjoyed it.
â€œHowever, I think we should have taken more of our chances â€“ we did have 23 shots.â€ â€œIt was enjoyable to come back to my home town.â€
â€œCarlisle competed really well and there was a great atmosphere.â€
The Newcastle Academy player was thrown in at the deep end last season and came out the other side with much needed experience in the big time. However, what is clear is that Paul is like Steven Taylor â€“ his best position is center-back – and he can look commanding there with his 6’3â€ frame. Although he played at full back a number of times (on either side) he didn’t look as comfortable there.
Paul went on:
It would have been nice to cap the performance with a goal.“
â€œI went up for a few set-pieces, but it wasnâ€™t to be.
â€œIt was a great finish by Nobby Solano though.â€
Allardyce has already confessed that the first team experiences from last season of both Huntington and Peter Ramage will be crucial at the start of this coming season. David Rozehnal is the only other senior center-back currently fit and available. There are persistent rumors we may be after Norwegian International Brede Hangeland from Copenhagen – but of course the Premiership will be a new experience for Brede as well.
â€œBy the end I was one of the more experienced players.â€œBut there were still the likes of Nobby and Kieron Dyer out there.
â€œItâ€™s a learning curve for everybody and when youngsters come on I have to give them a helping hand.â€
Paul joined United from Trinity School, Carlisle on 1 July 2004. He played at Wembley Stadium for Carlisle schoolboys and also won the England Under 18 National Cup for his school in 2004.
Huntington made his Reserve team debut in the 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on 7 December 2004. He made his England U18 debut in a 1-0 win over Scotland at Hartlepool on 22 December 2004 and also featured in the 0-0 draw with Norway at Port Vale in June 2005.
He got his first taste of senior action when he came off the bench in the 3-1 Premiership win at Blackburn Rovers on December 9, 2006 and went on to make another 15 appearances for the first team last season.
We look forward – in the next couple of years – for Paul to be fighting it out for a first team place at Newcastle. If he does anywhere near as good as Steven Taylor has over the last two years – the fans and Sam Allardyce will be very happy indeed.