By Dominic Scurr
GATESHEAD are delighted to confirm the loan signing of Middlesbrough striker Luke Armstrong until the end of the season.
The 22-year-old forward graduated through Boro’s Academy before joining Birmingham City and later moving to Cowdenbeath as a teenager.
Armstrong then moved back to the North East to join Blyth Spartans, where he would go on to be managed by his father and former Newcastle and Middlesbrough striker, Alun.
The youngster impressed at Croft Park, netting 23 goals for the Spartans in the 2016/17 season as they earned promotion to the National League North.
Armstrong’s impressive displays were enough to re-catch the eye of Middlesbrough, as he returned to the Teesside club from Blyth last summer.
Since then, he has been a regular with Boro’s under-23s side – scoring three goals in as many matches in last season’s Checkatrade Trophy.
Following the signing, Gateshead boss Steve Watson spoke of his delight at finally securing a striker for the coming season.
“The striking position we’ve been working long and hard on all summer and Luke has been someone we’ve been hoping to get in for maybe three weeks now,” said the Heed manager.
“Middlesbrough obviously rate him very highly and are going to be careful about who they loan him out to but we all agreed in the end that it would be a very good move for both ourselves and Luke with the way we’re going to try and play and the player he is.
“I’ve known him for a number of years, when he first came across to Birmingham City. He was probably a little bit young and raw back then particularly for Championship level but you could see his attitude and work ethic were fantastic. He’s very hungry and comes from a footballing family with his Dad, Alun.
“Since then he’s only got better and he will only get better simply because of his attitude and his willingness to put the miles in and get himself goals. He’s exactly the type of player we want and we’re delighted that it’s over the line.
“He’ll bring a great work ethic from the front. We had lots of different types of striker last season but Luke is someone who can work the channels, hold the line and stay central.
“He’s the type of player that won’t give the defenders a moments peace and hopefully, we can create enough chances to get him plenty of goals as well.
“As I’ve said all along, the main thing for me when you bring in younger players is their attitude, desire and knowing what’s needed of them in this league and with Luke, it’s not even a gamble.”