Newcastle United midfielder completes first of two Eddie Howe challenges set earlier this season

Eddie Howe was all smiles following Newcastle United's 4-1 win over BurnleyEddie Howe was all smiles following Newcastle United's 4-1 win over Burnley
Eddie Howe was all smiles following Newcastle United's 4-1 win over Burnley | Getty Images
Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe advocated for Sean Longstaff to make the England squad in October

Sean Longstaff took his goal tally for the campaign to seven - fulfilling Eddie Howe’s challenge set earlier in the campaign.

Newcastle United thrashed Burnley 4-1 at Turf Moor to take a huge stride towards European qualification. Everyone of a black and white persuasion will be rooting for Crystal Palace when they welcome Manchester United to Selhurst Park tonight. 

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Longstaff bagged the second of those four goals, tucking home from close range after clever play by Jacob Murphy. He now has five Premier League strikes this season, with further contributions coming in the Champions League and FA Cup.

A remarkable stat is how the 26-year-old had never bagged more than one top-flight goal in any of his previous five campaigns. With an new-found ability in the final third, Longstaff has answered a demand asked by his manager when assessing the midfielder.

"I'd love to see him score more goals and get in more goalscoring positions because I think he is a very good finisher,” Howe said in October. “You saw the other night with a really good goal, so hopefully there's more to come from him. But he's certainly done very well at the start of this season."

At the time, Newcastle’s injury crisis was yet to materialise and there were calls for Longstaff to earn an England call-up. One of those advocates, unsurprisingly, came closer to home.

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"I haven't spoken with Sean in any great detail about the England squad or his dreams and aims - but I'd encourage it for him because I think he is good enough,” Howe added. “I think he's got everything depending on what system you want to play but for us, he perfectly fits the number eight role that we're using him in.”

Euro 2024 will likely come too early for Longstaff and some may question whether he can ever play for England. But football is a fast-changing game, often dictated by circumstances out of one’s control. 

Gareth Southgate was watching on as Newcastle swept aside Burnley at Turf Moor. Perhaps Longstaff laid a brick in the ever-changing wall that holds his international hopes.

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