NILE Ranger insists he can rise to the challenge to keep Newcastle in the top half of the Premier League, writes Miles Starforth.
The pacy and direct 19-year-old, pictured right, is still looking for his first top-flight goal, after going close against West Ham and Tottenham, but is confident of coming up with goals for the Magpies.
“The manager has said he doesn’t need to dip into the transfer market and get another striker in,” Ranger said.
“As a young player or any player, that gives you a bit of encouragement and to know you are in his plans gives you a bit of confidence.
“I’m so close to the first team, I’d rather not go on loan.
“I feel like I’m back in form a bit anyway. I got a hat-trick in the reserves against Wigan and that got me a chance against Tottenham.
“You’re always happiest when you’re scoring goals as a striker. It’s really just about getting the chances and opportunities to do that.
“I’m happy to keep getting games in the reserves to prove myself.
“The gaffer says it’s good to have a little run out now and again. You’ve got to stay involved, because I haven’t been playing much recently.
“I hope that by doing that, there’ll be a few decent reports getting back to the gaffer. That’s all you can hope for.”
The low-point of the campaign so far was the shock FA Cup exit at Stevenage, Ranger struggling to make any kind of impression after coming off the bench.
“They were always going to be at it. We just weren’t on our game as much as they were,” he added.
“It is always harder playing in those type of games and I wanted to just cry after the miss at West Ham.
“Now I just need to keep getting a sniff in the first team and hoping for as many run outs as possible.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle remain in talks with out-of-favour Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland.
The Magpies are out in Portugal for a warm-weather training camp and boss Alan Pardew still hopes to make two signings by Monday’s 11pm transfer deadline.
He said: “We are still just looking at making offers and making calls. As much as we want a player and we actually want two with Wayne (Routledge) going, it has to be right. We will not rush into anything.
“Andy (Carroll) hopefully won’t be too long and Cheik (Tiote) will be coming back soon, so that will give us a big boost.”
H Newcastle’s second string are in Premier Reserve League action against Manchester City at Hyde tonight (7pm).