Ex-Blackpool loanee Viv Solomon-Otabor says he’s not surprised by the rapid rise of former teammate Sean Longstaff.
The pair played together for the Seasiders last season and could have been reunited at Portsmouth, where Solomon-Otabor is now plying his trade on loan from Birmingham City.
Longstaff was heavily rumoured to be heading to the South Coast at the start of the season only for Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez to pull the deal at the last minute.
Since then, the 21-year-old has forced his way into Newcastle’s first-team plans, making 12 appearances and scoring twice for his hometown club.
Solomon-Otabor, who has remained in contact with Longstaff since leaving Blackpool, saluted the midfielder for taking his opportunity at St James’ Park.
“He texted me at the start of the season and said he was supposed to be coming down here but he didn’t,” Solomon-Otabor told the Portsmouth News.
“We were both back at our parent clubs and asking each other what we were going to do. He was going to come here but then he wasn’t allowed to go out on loan. But he just waited for his chance, worked hard and got it.
“I was with him at Blackpool and you could see the potential in him then and his work ethic.
“He just wanted to improve. He’s a shy guy and probably expected it himself, but once he imposes himself on the pitch you just think “What a player”. He is a great player and it was a pleasure for me to play with him.
“I feel like if you get the opportunity to play – whatever the level it is – and you’re good enough then there’s nothing to worry about.
“He came on loan to Blackpool, did well and has now has the opportunity to play in the first team at Newcastle. Obviously he’s taken it. Everything he did at Blackpool he is doing now.
“As long as you’re good enough and you have the opportunity then you’ve got nothing to worry about. That’s the beauty of football – you never know what could come tomorrow. He has worked hard and got his chance.”
Longstaff has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after suffering a knee injury in Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham, but Solomon-Otabor is certain Longstaff will be back to his best when he returns.
He added: “Obviously, it’s unfortunate for him to now be out with an injury, which is sad. But I am 100 per cent sure he will get back to the way he was, I have no doubt.”