NEWCASTLE United fans will see a lot more of Shane Ferguson next season, according to manager Alan Pardew.
Ferguson made the third Premier League start of his career in Sunday’s 3-3 draw against West Brom at St James’s Park.
The 19-year-old, withdrawn just past the hour mark, had a bright first half on the left wing.
Ferguson troubled Roy Hodgson’s side, and helped his team gain the momentum which took them into a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead.
However, the performance started to unravel after the third goal, and Pardew – whose side were undone by a Somen Tchoyi hat-trick – would have loved to have kept slightly-built Ferguson on the pitch for longer.
And the challenge for Pardew and his staff in pre-season is to ensure slightly-built Ferguson – who is believes is capable of challenging for a regular start in his team – is fitter and stronger for the challenges ahead.
“Fergie hit the wall, and we’ve got to get him stronger,” Pardew admitted.
“That’s where these players are at. They’re not there yet. If they do the work, they’ll threaten the team.
“Fergie was brilliant. It’s such a shame he couldn’t see the game out.”
Ferguson and his colleagues were this week been given fitness programmes for the summer after an end-of-season debrief at the club’s training ground.
Meanwhile, Derry-born Ferguson is yet to decide on his international future.
Ferguson has representated Northern Ireland once at senior level, but as the fixture was a friendly, he could switch alleigence to the Republic of Ireland, who have made an approach to the player.
He was not named in either country’s squad for their end-of-season internationals, and instead will consult his family this summer before making what will arguably be one of the toughest calls of his career.
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington said last week: “I’ve left voicemails, text messages and made random calls to Shane, but at no time did we get a reply.”