STUART McCall believes Alex Gilliead can become an even bigger influence for City after securing him for the full term.

The Newcastle winger put pen to paper on a loan extension this afternoon and the news he is staying at Valley Parade for the rest of the season is another boost in the week that saw Tyrell Robinson sign a long-term contract.

Gilliead heads for the FA Cup clash with Yeovil on the back of opening his league account with the equaliser in the comeback win at Fleetwood on New Year’s Day.

It capped an impressive display which drew praise from home boss Uwe Rosler over the way he won the personal duel with highly-rated full back Amari’i Bell.

McCall said: “I was speaking to Uwe afterwards and he was saying there are not many people who take on Amari’i Bell on the outside and beat him for pace and strength. He did that three or four times.

“There are apparently quite a few Championship clubs watching Bell and I think they would have gone away more impressed with Gilly.

“We were pleased to get him back in the summer. We said the ball was in his court then as the only out-and-out wide man at the club.

“Last year he was in and out with (Mark) Marshall’s good form, but he knew that if he played at a certain level he would stay in the side.

“He’s done that and got better and better. He’s stronger, knows the position more and improved his game.

“Obviously we would like him to chip in with a few more goals but he got an important one for us the other day.

“He’s a good trainer, a good sort and it’s a good move for us. Hopefully he can keep improving and have a really strong second half to the season.”

City had been trying to tie up the deal for a couple of months since Newcastle allowed him to play in the FA Cup opener against Chesterfield – when Gilliead scored his other goal of the campaign.

There were suggestions that Sunderland and Millwall were watching him as the wait went on for his Premier League parent club to sanction the loan extension.

And there was a rumour of a late bid from within League One to hijack the deal with the 21-year-old.

McCall added: “I know there was a little bit of interest from Championship clubs. But is he going to go there and play regularly like he is here? Probably not.

“Gilly has just got to maintain what he’s doing. I’m sure he will do that because he’s a level-headed lad.

“He’s strong and travels well with the ball and is an important player for us.”

City are also looking to sort out Luke Hendrie’s future with the Burnley defender’s loan also up after the weekend game.

Tyrell Robinson is over his illness and is set to return at left back. But Hendrie could be involved on the right side if Tony McMahon fails to recover from a thigh problem.

McCall said: “I’d rate Tony as 50-50. He felt his thigh early on in Monday’s game but he had a dead leg a while ago and we think the blood has coagulated in there.

“On the plus side, Tyrell has recovered and Matt Kilgallon is back fresh from being rested. Dom Poleon has also trained well and will travel in the squad.

“A few of the lads have been feeling it after playing two games in three days. But the training has been very light and we’ll assess things.”