Sean Longstaff credits boss Eddie Howe for saving Newcastle career

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The 25-year-old midfielder owes debts of gratitude to both head coach Howe and team-mate Matt Ritchie after they helped him to revive his career in different ways and both are in his thoughts as he contemplates Sunday's Carabao Cup final clash with Manchester United. Longstaff's career had stalled somewhat under Steve Bruce, but the former Bournemouth boss' arrival at St James' Park in November 2021 sparked a revival with he, Fabian Schar, Joelinton and Miguel Almiron in particular blossoming under the 45-year-old's charge. Asked about Howe's influence, he said: "He is someone I will be forever grateful to and he has saved my Newcastle career in a way. "We have a really good relationship and I trust him and I hope he is starting to trust me more and more with my performances. I have been playing quite a bit. "We had conversations when we were sorting my contract out and he was saying stuff I don't think even I believed, but luckily he believed in me and lots came true." If Howe's faith has been pivotal in a resurgence which saw Longstaff score both goals in the Magpies' 2-1 semi-final, second leg victory over Southampton, Ritchie's support too has proved invaluable. It was he who spotted that the youngster was struggling as he attempted to negotiate a path back into the team and recommended that he see a psychologist. Longstaff said: "I was miserable, to be fair. In training… Can I swear? I was a bit of a tit and I wasn't nice to be around and he eventually saw that. "Some people just let you drift away, but he was one who pulled me back and he said, 'Longy, you need to sort it out'. He texted me and said, 'You need to speak to this guy and speak to him now'. "Two and a half years later, if it wasn't for him getting me on the right track, I probably wouldn't be playing for Newcastle now." Now Longstaff is readying himself to walk out at Wembley hoping he can match the achievement of younger brother Matty, who as a 19-year-old marked his Premier League debut with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Asked if Matty's heroics back in 2019 remains his family's biggest achievement to date, Sean, who was on the pitch with him that day, said: "It still is if you ask Matty! "No. To share the pitch with my brother, do it in the Premier League against Manchester United, is a memory I won't forget." As one of the home-grown players in the Newcastle squad, Longstaff knows only too well the hunger for success in the city and had an insight into what might follow victory at Wembley when he met up with his father David, a former Great Britain ice hockey international, after the semi-final. He said: "He was doing Dry January, but that went out the window. I went upstairs and he got a bit emotional. I hadn't seen him get emotional like that since Matty scored against Manchester United."

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