NILE Ranger started the season dreaming of being Newcastle United’s top scorer, but while the 19-year-old has had to tone down his ambitions, they still lie at St James’ Park.
The striker has been linked with no end of loans to Championship clubs this season, a good indication of his potential.
But he had to wait until Saturday for his Premier League debut, a six-minute substitute appearance as Newcastle successfully chased a point at home to Wigan Athletic. Adding to that is now his top priority. “My ambition this season was to be the club’s top goalscorer,” said Ranger, a fringe player in last season’s Championship.
“But failing that, to get a few Premier League games under my belt and try and pin a place down in the first team.
“I got back for pre-season and got my head down and worked hard. Since then I’ve got a couple of reserve games and League Cup games where I played well.
“I’m on the fringes but I’m not too sure where I stand. I’m just waiting for my chance really and it is up to me to take it when it comes.
“Hopefully I’ll get a few more games under my belt this season, like I did in the Championship last season. The team is strong and I’ll just have to wait my turn. I don’t want anybody to get injured but I’ll be ready if I’m called upon.” Ranger performed well in pre-season, but has been frustrated by manager Chris Hughton’s preference for a lone striker. On Saturday he picked two centre-forwards for the first time.
“Only time will tell if I can play up front together with (first-choice) Andy Carroll,” commented Ranger. “But we have played together in the Championship and we did all right.”
Ranger made his debut on the first day of last season, as a substitute at West Bromwich Albion. He has played 33 games for Newcastle – nine from the start – scoring three goals.
“I always feel like I’m getting better,” he said. “Playing with the first-team players is helping me become stronger.”