Steve Bruce must look to let Elliot Anderson off the leash after Newcastle United’s hopes of signing Cardiff City talent Kieron Evans took a huge blow.
Reports by Wales Online last month claimed that the Toon were one of a small group of Premier League clubs eying Evans’ situation at the Cardiff City Stadium with a view to a potential summer swoop.
However, the Bluebirds announced on Wednesday that the 19-year-old has now agreed on a new, two-year contract with the Championship side, he’d have been a free agent at the end of the season if he didn’t put pen-to-paper.
Evans is on the cusp of making his first-team breakthrough in south Wales after being listed in five senior squads so far this term, but is yet to step foot onto the field for his debut.
Cardiff rate the Wales U19 international’s potential highly and have now moved to avoid losing his services for nothing more than a compensatory sum, amid the alleged interest from Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Sheffield United.
“Kieron Evans has been a standout performer since I’ve come in,” Cardiff’s U23 coach Steve Morison said following the attacking midfielder’s new contract. “He’s been excellent.
“To top it all off, he’s now adding assists and goals in every game alongside his performances, which have got him really noticed. He deserves it.”
Evans was noted to have attracted attentive glares from top-flight clubs last month after scoring and assisting as the Bluebirds U23s beat Millwall, while also finding the back of the net against Severnside rivals Bristol City.
Cardiff moving to tie Evans down to a two-year contract just goes to show how highly he is rated in south Wales, likely making any attempt by Newcastle to prise him away in the off-season a futile pursuit.
But United should not be overly concerned by missing out on the attacking midfielder, who can also operate on the wing, as the Magpies already have a promising rising star in their ranks in Anderson.
Bruce has previously stated that he has been “very pleased” by how Anderson has progressed and settled into the Toon senior fold, after coming on in the closing stages of regular time for his first-team debut against Arsenal in the FA Cup in January.
The 18-year-old did not look out of place among his more experienced teammates in north London, and was expected to force his way into Bruce’s plans more often before the Toon’s form derailed and were engulfed in a relegation battle.
“As soon as he comes on to the pitch, he accepts the ball and receives the ball,” Bruce said following the FA Cup clash, via quotes by Chronicle Live. “He never looks rushed. Everything is effortless to him and easy. We hope he’s got a big future.
“He’ll remember his debut. He could have scored in the last minute, couldn’t he? What a wonderful debut that would have been. I’m very pleased with his progress and he’s one that we hope can do us a good turn over the season.”
More recently, Bruce has shared that Anderson must wait for more opportunities despite the injuries for Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson, as he needs experienced heads to help with a relegation fight.
But that should not be the case, and Bruce should be looking to unleash Anderson and let him prove that he is ready, while his age is just the number currently being used to hold him back.