LOANS to third-level teams are strictly small beer compared to Premier League takeovers.

That was the worry for Alex Gilliead as he waited on the green light to confirm he would be staying at Valley Parade for the duration of the season.

While Newcastle were apparently quite happy with City’s request to hang on to the flying winger, the lack of official confirmation from the north-east was becoming a growing concern.

Mike Ashley’s decision to put the club up for sale in October swamped everything. Takeover talks dominate the Newcastle agenda and the rest has been sidelined.

Hence Gilliead’s worry that his own file had been buried beneath offers for the club in the pending tray.

He admitted: “I wasn’t worried that it wouldn’t happen but more that it might be done at the last minute.

“It was just a case of Newcastle and Bradford agreeing a deal and getting all the paperwork put together.

“I kept asking and it would be a case of later this week, next week or the week after.

“I was confident it would get done but then it got to the stage where we came to January and we were still waiting.

“I asked my agent what the craic was and he said Newcastle were going to sort it.

“But obviously with everything going on there with the takeover, I thought I might be down the pecking order.”

Eventually Gilliead’s mind – and that of Stuart McCall and his coaching staff – was put to rest with a call from Greg Abbott. The head of recruitment whisked him up to Newcastle and the 21-year-old could not sign the papers quick enough.

Gilliead is out of contract at Newcastle in the summer and his dream of playing for his boyhood club looks like being unfulfilled.

The Geordies are well stocked for wingers and barring Rolando Aarons, Rafa Benitez does not feel that any of the young players he has inherited can make the grade at Premier League level.

But Newcastle may still offer him a new deal to ensure they make good money from the compensation they would be entitled to because of his age.

Benitez and his staff have been monitoring Gilliead’s progress at Valley Parade.

The club’s attitude to their loan players has improved markedly under the Spaniard, even with those that may never get the first-team nod.

They recalled Adam Armstrong from Bolton because they did not feel he was getting enough minutes, before redirecting him to City’s promotion rivals Blackburn.

It was the same with Ivan Toney, who was used chiefly as a substitute by Wigan and has now gone back to previous loan club Scunthorpe.

There is no such issue of lack of opportunity with Gilliead, who has already made 30 appearances this season – and only four players in City’s team have started more games.

He said: “I’m playing 90 minutes every week and I like the gaffer. I’m learning from every game I play – Newcastle are happy and so am I.

“Bradford does match the ambitions that some clubs have in the Championship. It’s just a matter of getting there.

“I was more than happy to stay. I feel I’m doing well and improving and learning different aspects.

“I’m not stupid. People tell me what I need to do to improve – but I’m quite clued up.

“I know I need to get more assists and more goals going forward, as well as working hard at coming back.

“I just want to chip in with what I can for the rest of the season and hopefully help the team to keep climbing the league and get where we want to be.”

The delay in tying down Gilliead for the remaining four months allowed the inevitable speculation to creep in.

There were suggestions of interest from Championship clubs, with Millwall and – whisper it quietly – Sunderland and Middlesbrough thrown in the mix.

For a die-hard Geordie like Gilliead, a potential switch to one of their north-east neighbours might have taken some explaining.

He laughed: “Some of my family wouldn’t be happy with me! But I don’t know where any of that came from.

“It might just have been Twitter talking and people making a fuss out of nothing.

“I don’t want to go somewhere and be sitting on the bench – you’re no good to anybody then. Bradford are the right club for me and I’m enjoying it.”