SHANE Ferguson has found chances hard to come by at Newcastle United this season, writes MILES STARFORTH.
But the defender’s hoping his patience will be rewarded should Jose Enrique fail to prove his fitness for Saturday’s Premier League visit to Stoke City.
Ferguson has been put on standby for the game at the Britannia Stadium, with Enrique struggling with a hamstring problem.
While Alan Pardew, conscious of the need for height in his team against Stoke, could opt to reshuffle his back four should Enrique fail to make it, the fact that Ferguson is in contention to play at all underlines the faith the club’s manager has in the 19-year-old.
Ferguson was brought off the bench in Newcastle’s last game, the defeat to Everton earlier this month.
And he won praise from Pardew – who doesn’t have a senior left-back to challenge Enrique – for his cameo.
“I’ve just got to keep my fitness up and keep impressing,” Ferguson said.
“I just have to keep working hard, and hopefully they’ll be watching and I’ll get my chance.”
Had it not been for injuries, and the lack of left-back cover for Enrique, Pardew would have been minded to loan Ferguson for first-team experience, as he has done with a number of other young players.
While a spell away from St James’s Park would have benefited him, Ferguson’s been content to bide his time and wait for an opportunity.
“At the minute because of injuries, it’s hard for me to go out on loan,” he added. “They need back up in case anyone else gets injured. I’m happy to be here, and to keep impressing and showing the manager what I can do.”
Ferguson was a winger when he arrived on Tyneside, but Pardew sees him as a left-back, though he concedes the slightly-built player needs to put on weight if he’s to cope with the rigours of Premier League football.
“He’s telling me every day I need a steak and milk diet – I just have to put a couple more stone on!” Ferguson went on. “When I first came over I played left wing, but one pre-season the left back got injured. I tried it there, and I’ve been learning the game at left back. We’ll see how it goes.”