By Will Butcher
Newcastle are set to agree a deal that will see young midfielder Alex Gilliead join League One side Bradford City on loan, according to a report.
The Evening Chronicle claimed the 20-year-old will complete a move to Stuart McCall’s side on Wednesday, after spending the first half of the season loan at League Two side Luton Town.
Highly rated on Tyneside, Newcastle chiefs believe Gilliead needs to be tested at a higher level after impressing in the fourth tier of English football.
That has seen Bradford move swiftly to sign the seven-time England Under-20 midfielder, just days after the Toon academy product returned to the north East.
Gilliead starred in Luton’s midfield this season throughout his 19 league and cup appearances for the Hatters, finding the back of the net once in the Checkatrade Trophy against West Brom’s Under-23 side.
Yet to make a senior appearance for Rafa Benitez’s first team, the former Carlisle loanee is keen to show the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss what he can do with just 18 months remaining on his current contract.
Football Insider verdict:
Allowing Gilliead to chance his arm at a higher level is a step into the unknown that could go both ways. The youngster will be plying his trade with a better group of players and may struggle to gain regular first-team football at Valley Parade. He will need to take his chance when handed a start by McCall, which will see Gilliead begin to cope with pressure. However, this will only benefit the Magpies, as they can then make an educated decision on the future of Gilliead. If he struggles to have an impact, they can consider his future at the club but if he shines then they could look to give him an opportunity in the first team throughout pre-season and the 2017-18 campaign.
In other Newcastle transfer news, Benitez has been given this response in his pursuit of a Championship winger.