Former Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer says Sean Longstaff’s recent first-team bow with Newcastle United is exactly what the goalscoring midfielder deserves.
Bowyer was recently among a handful of coaches to be invited to Newcastle’s training ground by Magpies boss Rafa Benitez as part of a LMA meeting.
Longstaff was brought to Blackpool by Bowyer last season, with the midfielder netting nine times as the Seasiders finished in 12th place in League One.
Since returning from his loan spell, Longstaff has found himself regularly involved with the first team at Newcastle, making his competitive debut against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup last month.
He was then an unused substitute during Newcastle’s defeat away to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
After watching Longstaff train with Newcastle’s first team, Bowyer said: "He had a fabulous year for me, for the club and obviously for himself and Newcastle.
"He came in and scored some wonderful goals - you put some of them on Twitter!
“He's got fantastic ability and he's a fantastic lad as well. He wants to get better and that was the big thing about him; he was always looking to improve, always in the office looking at his clips for ways he could get better.
"Personally, as a coach and as a manager, I'm delighted to see the progress he's made in pre-season.
“I was fortunate enough to be in Nottingham two weeks ago and watched him make his debut there.
“The last time I saw one of the players that I'd worked with make his debut was Phil Jones, at Forest ironically, so if he can go and do what Phil Jones has done then he'll be alright.
"But on a serious note, he's got a lot of talent and he's got a good family behind him that really support him and push him. And working with Rafa Benítez, he's got a great opportunity to improve his game even further now. Hopefully he breaks through and becomes a regular for Newcastle."
Longstaff wasn’t the only loanee to impress for Blackpool last season, with the likes of Joe Lumley and Viv Solomon-Otabor also seeing improvements in their game from working with Bowyer.
The former Pool boss added: “At Blackpool, the resources dictated who we could bring in, and we were fortunate that Sean was brought to our attention and we were able to get him on loan.
"The brilliant thing for us at that time was that there was a clear pathway for him to play games, and he just grew every game and every week there.
“He learnt so much about himself, living away from home for the full season.
“His technical ability with the ball and his shooting ability were just phenomenal and to have somebody in midfield that you could rely on for goals, even at the end of the season, he was disappointed that he didn't get double figures.
"If we'd said that before the start of the season, he'd have thought I was mad asking for double figures from him, but he had a great time there and he did ever so well.
"He's a young lad and the most important thing for him last year was getting games under his belt and getting them on his CV.
“You can play U23 games but in my opinion, there's nothing better than what he did last season for a young player. It brings them on not just from the football point of view but socially, living away from home and learning to adapt.
"He's taken his chance in pre-season. He's learning and he's got a lot do to still - he knows that - but speaking to him, he's loving it every day because he's learning and being taught the game from Rafa.
"From a manager's point of view that's one of things I really enjoy - seeing the players develop and go on.
“I've been fortunate enough to have worked with quite a lot of younger ones who have gone on, developed themselves and progressed, and from my point of view if was a proud moment the other week watching him run out at Forest because you've played a little part in that.
"But it is only a little part. Ultimately, it's down to Sean and his desire and his dedication and his professionalism to improve and get in the first team."