Newcastle United’s plan for Elliot Anderson after Bristol Rovers promotion hero almost never made move

There were plenty of factors from stopping Elliot Anderson becoming a Bristol Rovers player

<p>Elliot Anderson returned to Newcastle United this week after getting Bristol Rovers promoted. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)</p>

Elliot Anderson returned to Newcastle United this week after getting Bristol Rovers promoted. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Elliot Anderson won’t need to buy a round in Bristol again after his sensational impact at Bristol Rovers.

The 19-year-old had almost the perfect start to life in senior football, winning promotion to League One in his first loan away from Newcastle United.

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Anderson’s header at the back post from Antony Evans’ pinpoint cross sparked the sold out Memorial Stadium into a frenzy.

Fans entered the pitch with a threat of abandonment and a 15-minute delay before the Gas’ third tier status could be confirmed.

But that moment very nearly may not have happened, had deadline day gone different for Joey Barton.

A few days before the winter transfer window was about to close, the 41-year-old stated his desire for a new left-back and a central midfielder.

No defender ended up coming through the door but he was treated with two midfielders after multiple tries elsewhere.

There was an enquiry to Cheltenham Town about taking back Liam Sercombe, who was released by Ben Garner in 2020.

That ended up being rejected with the Robins unhappy with the terms offered, with both a loan and permanent transfer considered.

Callum Camps of Fleetwood Town was also considered, an unsurprising target given he previously worked with Barton at Highbury Stadium.

Fleetwood, struggling at the time though, were keen to keep one of their midfielders as they sold Jay Matete on the same day to Sunderland, which put a stop to a move.

That ultimately led to a call to Newcastle, discussing with his former teammates Shola Ameobi and Steve Harper over the possibility of managing one of their youngsters.

And at the eleventh hour with just an hour left of the transfer window, Anderson was unveiled as a Gas player, despite Newcastle’s slight reluctance to see a player drop down at a level they believed he was above.

It was testament to Barton’s backroom staff that in a pressurised situation with plenty of probabilities, they were able to strike gold on an unproven player.

“To find Elliot Anderson in the midst of when we were chasing down a transfer target that was priority number one for the whole window and it didn’t work out,” revealed Barton in early April.

“To have Plan B, C and D, is a credit to our recruitment staff and the work they do. “As a manager you get focused on target one and let’s take that off the board and you start making plans for that.

They say ‘hang on if that doesn’t happen, we need to be protected and take B and believe it or not, Elliot was Plan B. Sometimes you need a bit of luck because Plan A definitely wasn’t as good as Plan B.”

Almost five months later, Anderson returned to the North East having won the Player of the Month for April, earned after seven goals and six assists in his 21 appearances.

Just a few days after his heroics, there was talks of him playing in the Premier League, but ultimately that came to an abrupt end.

Confusion over his loan prompted discussions that as his loan with Rovers had expired and he returned, he would be able to play but instead he was proven to be ineligible.

Asked whether Eddie Howe would have considered using him in Newcastle United’s final two games, he responded: “Yeah potentially, if he was available.

“It would have been very good timing for us with the injuries we’ve got in that position but it wasn’t to be.”

Meanwhile there is slightly a bit more clarity on what the Magpies plans are for him for the 2022/23 campaign.

A whole host of Championship clubs are interested in securing the youngster on loan next season, as are Rovers who are preparing a plan to keep him.

“We’ll certainly bring him back for pre-season and have a closer look at him,” Howe said.

“He’ll be involved in the pre-season games. “We’ll make a decision then on whether or not he needs another loan or stays with us.”

“It was a dramatic final day and full credit to Joey, his team and to Elliot. What an experience for him, one he’ll always remember I’m sure and something he’ll look back on fondly at the end of hopefully a very successful career.”