FOR Adam Armstrong, first-team football was his sole aim, whether that be at Newcastle United or not.

Armstrong came through the ranks at St James’, but as he approaches a milestone appearance, just 21 of his 199 career appearances came for his
boyhood club.

A desire to play regular games saw him move to Coventry on loan, teaming up with Tony Mowbray when a then 18-year-old Armstrong netted 20 League One goals.

After further loans with Barnsley and Bolton, Mowbray came calling again for Armstrong, signing him on loan to help Rovers over the line in their promotion bid before securing a permanent return that summer.

Armstrong is now approaching a double century of matches, which he should reach this afternoon at QPR having missed just one game since his £1.75m move.

Newcastle handed him a long-term deal, which would have run to 2020, after a goal-laden spell with the Sky Blues. But sensing game-time in the immediate future would be limited, Armstrong, as ever, took the option of regular football.

And while he admits it was a brave move to go away from his regular surroundings, he feels the bravery has been rewarded as he sits on the verge of his milestone.

“I was at the age where I was around the first-team, but that wasn’t enough,” Armstrong said.

“I knew as a young lad at Newcastle everyone’s dream was to play for Newcastle, but I just wanted to play games, that’s what I grew up to do.

“You want to be playing every week, that’s the mentality I had coming through at Newcastle.

“I think you have a lot of young players who are happy to be around the first-team, be in the stands, but that wasn’t enough for me.

“Going to Coventry was massive for my confidence and has benefited me massively in my career.”

Armstrong certainly enjoyed his loan moves, but seeking a permanent home, opted for Rovers on a long-term contract last summer.

Games and goals have flowed with some regularity but at 22, there’s plenty of room, and time, for improvement.

He added: “We’ve got still lads my age who are playing Under-23s football and it’s not what they want.

“I was lucky enough to go on loan as many times as I did and get the experience I needed.

“I’m here now approaching 200 games, with quite a few goals, and hopefully I can keep it going.

“It’s a nice milestone. I’m still young and 200 games is crazy for a 22-year-old but that’s what I wanted when I was younger, I wanted to be playing games.

“You want to be playing every week and I’ve had chance to do that and hopefully I can keep it up.”

Despite his great promise coming through the age groups, that saw him become a regular for England at youth level, Armstrong left St James’ Park having made just four starts.

In Mowbray he has found a manager who has shown great faith in him, with 120 appearances across loan spells with Coventry and Rovers, plus 59 since the permanent switch.

“The manager has been huge. I was only a young boy at Coventry and he took me under his wing and gave me the confidence I needed at that age and he’s still doing that to his day, not just with me but all of the lads,” he said.

“We’re all thriving off that and hopefully we can keep picking up points.”

Armstrong will be bidding for goal number 50 of his career should he get the nod against QPR.

That seems likely given he has netted twice in his last three matches, including opening the scoring in the midweek draw with Forest.

On that, he said: “It was a good pass from Bradley, it’s something we work on in training so it’s nice when something like that comes off.

“I thought we were brilliant the other night and have to take the positives from that.

“I think the way we were playing, we were passing it out from the back and that suits the players we’ve got.

“Hopefully it causes more teams problems going forward.

“I thought I played well the other night, I just have to keep that up.”