Almost reunited at Portsmouth after Blackpool – but Birmingham loanee salutes Sean Longstaff for Newcastle United breakthrough
The pair were team-mates at Blackpool and could have been reunited on the south coast.
Viv Solomon-Otabor and Sean Longstaff were the two stand-out players at Bloomfield Road last season.
They were mentioned on numerous occasions during Kenny Jackett’s Monday debriefs, with Pompey showing interest in the duo on separate occasions.
Solomon-Otabor is currently on loan at Fratton Park, after completing a January transfer deadline day move from Birmingham City.
Longstaff was on the cusp of joining the Blues from Newcastle last summer – only for Toon boss Rafa Benitez to pull the plug at the last minute.
It would have proved a shrewd capture by Jackett, with the 21-year-old subsequently making his Premier League breakthrough this term.
He’s made 12 appearances for Newcastle and has been influential as they’ve hauled themselves away from the relegation zone.
Longstaff has earned plenty of praise from pundits, been dubbed the new Michael Carrick and touted for an England under-21 call-up.
While both back at their respective parent clubs last summer, Solomon-Otabor was in contact with the midfielder – and revealed he was set to join Pompey.
And the winger saluted Longstaff for taking his opportunity at St James’ Park.
Solomon-Otabor said: ‘He texted me at the start of the season and said he was supposed to be coming down here but he didn’t.
‘We were both back at our parent clubs and asking each other what we were going to do.
‘He was going to come here but then he wasn’t allowed to go out on loan.
‘But he just waited for his chance, worked hard and got it.
‘I was with him at Blackpool and played with him in training every day.
‘You could see the potential in him then and his work ethic.
‘He just wanted to improve. He’s a shy guy and probably expected it himself, but once he imposes himself on the pitch you just think “What a player”.
‘He is a great player and it was a pleasure for me to play with him.
‘I feel like if you get the opportunity to play – whatever the level it is – and you’re good enough then there’s nothing to worry about.
‘He came on loan to Blackpool, done well and has now had the opportunity to play in the first team at Newcastle.
‘Obviously he’s taken it. Everything he did at Blackpool he is doing now.
‘As long as you’re good enough and you have the opportunity then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
‘That’s the beauty of football – you never know what could come tomorrow.
‘He has worked hard and got his chance.’
Longstaff has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, after suffering a knee injury in Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham.
He's set to be sidelined for up to four months but Solomon-Otabor is certain Longstaff will be back to his best when he returns.
The London-born talent added: ‘Obviously, it’s unfortunate for him to now be out with an injury, which is sad.
‘But I am 100-per-cent sure he will get back to the way he was – I have no doubt about that.’