SHANE FERGUSON has become the latest local prospect to grace the dizzy heights of the English Premiership stage this season, and the ambitious Eglinton lad is determined to make it a regular occurrence.
SIMON COLLINS REPORTS
The 19 year-old’s career at Premiership club, Newcastle United, has experienced a phenomenal turnaround since his arrival on Tyneside three years ago.
In fact, he’s been fast-tracked to first team duties this season due to a combination of injuries and a remarkable improvement in form in the Northern Ireland U21 international set-up.
It has been an amazing elevation for the youngster, who has already lined up against Chelsea, West Ham United, Everton and Stoke City during an unforgettable season which has seen him join the likes of Darron Gibson (Manchester United) and Shane Duffy (Everton) at the top level of world football.
And the likeable local lad intends on making the most of the ‘Magpies’ current injury plight, which paved the way for his third Premiership appearance from the substitute’s bench for Alan Pardew’s men during Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
While the result only served to plummet the fortunes of Newcastle, who now find themselves embroiled in the relegation battle, Shane found it difficult to curb his enthusiasm and excitement having thoroughly enjoyed his latest taste of Premiership action.
Introduced to the fray as a substitute midway through the first half for the injured Jose Enrique, Shane didn’t look out of place and was one of the few Newcastle players to receive any sort of praise following a promising display in his role as a converted left-back.
The adventurous defender, who arrived at the club as a left-sided midfielder, is clearly not lacking in confidence and he came close to making himself an instant hero with the ‘Toon Army’ when he skilfully skipped past the challenge of both Mark Wilson and Ryan Shawcross before forcing a fine save from Stoke keeper, Asmir Begovic, in the second half.
Although the international break may have arrived at an unfortunate time for the Derry lad, allowing those on the St James’ Park treatment room to get closer to a return, the fresh-faced Shane insists he can fill the void when Newcastle resume their Premiership campaign against Wolves on Saturday week.
“Everything’s going very well for me at the minute,” said Shane last night. “I was surprised that I’ve got so many chances with the first team this season but there are so many injuries at the club, so I guess I’m a bit lucky to be getting the chance.
“Before I came across to Newcastle if someone had of told me I would be making appearances in the Premier League I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s amazing how quickly it’s all happened.
“I thought I did okay on Saturday,” he continued. “It was obviously not a good result for us but I just tried my best and I want to keep taking my chances when they come along.”
Reflecting back on his ambitious venture forward during the second half, Shane modestly talked down his skilful contribution.
“I went on a run and it just kept opening up for me. I probably should have passed to be honest but I just felt I had to shoot,” he laughed.
“I knew from the start of the game that there was a good chance I would be coming on because Jose (Enrique) wasn’t at his best and was having problems with his hamstring. He didn’t train much before the game and his leg just didn’t hold up for him. The manager then told me to get ready and it was a brilliant feeling coming on.
“We’re disappointed with the result because we felt when we had the ball, we had good control of it but they took their chances and they were clinical, so we were unlucky in that respect.
“At the beginning of the second half they came out and got the ball down the channels, which we knew was going to happen but we were unlucky with the two goals, so we’re disappointed with that.
“It’s a setback but everyone’s still confident we can get the points we need as quickly as we can. I haven’t seen the manager since Saturday because all the lads have a day of recovery on a Monday, but the players all get on brilliantly and the mood is good at the club despite the result.”
Starring Role Against
Shane produced a starring role during Newcastle’s 3-4 Carling Cup victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last September and made his Premiership debut as a second half substitute against West Ham in January, but he ranks Saturday’s involvement just as highly and has targeted his first start for the club against fellow relegation strugglers, Wolves.
“It’s so close at the bottom now but Saturday’s result was just a hiccup and it’s only a matter of us pushing on from this after the international break,” he said. “On Saturday week we play Wolves and you never know what will happen but whatever team the manager chooses to play. I just want to keep impressing and taking my chances.
“At the start of the season I could have went out on loan but I decided to leave it and try and get stronger and fitter. I’ve got a few games under my belt now in the Carling Cup and a few appearances in the Premier League so I’m glad I decided to stay and give it a go.
“I suppose when everyone starts getting back to full fitness then maybe it’ll be the time to go out on loan but at the minute I’m happy to bide my time and take any chance I get.”