Newcastle manager Rafael Benítez has backed academy graduate Sean Longstaff to receive an England call-up at some stage.

The 21-year-old has burst onto the Premier League scene in recent weeks, appearing in seven Premier League matches this season - playing every minute of the Magpies' last six games.

His impressive performances in the centre of midfield have already drawn comparisons with five-time Premier League winner Michael Carrick, with Longstaff's composure and calmness on the ball, as well as his wide ranging passing ability, earning a number of plaudits.

He has now been backed by Magpies boss Benitez as a potential England candidate, with the Spaniard claiming that Longstaff would fit into the international setup nicely, even though he has reservations about lavishing praise on his young star this early in his development.

"Sean wouldn't look out of place with England, there are not too many young English players with his quality," Benitez said, as quoted by The Guardian.

"I don’t care if it’s the Under-20s, Under-21s or even the senior side but I think he needs to go one step at a time. If we start talking too much about how well it’s doing, it’s a risk. Sometimes you have players who aren’t in the system but they develop later."

Benitez, who has been linked with the vacant managerial role at Leicester over the past couple of days, continued by praising Longstaff's mental approach - though he did admit he has areas of his game to develop.

"His vision is good, there are just a few things he has to improve but he listens to us and is learning quickly. He’s someone who is normally calm under pressure and that’s a good thing for a midfielder.”


Despite his praise, Benitez will undoubtedly hope that Longstaff continues to focus on the pitch for now, as he prepares his Newcastle side to face resurgent Burnley at St James' Park on Tuesday night.