NEW Saints hitman Adam Armstrong reveals how forays into the loan system were the maketh of the man, insisting: “You could say it made life harder, but those spells got me to where I am today.”

The 24-year-old striker underwent four different loan transfers between 2015-2018, while still a youngster employed by Newcastle United.

The first spell was a lucrative one in front of goal, when he joined up with Tony Mowbray, Blackburn’s current boss, at Coventry City in League One. A teenage Armstrong netted 20 league goals in 40 appearances.

He recalled: “We had an unbelievable squad at Coventry when you look back at it now. It was my first loan move and I really enjoyed it. The gaffer was brilliant, Tony Mowbray. I settled in perfectly and hit the ground running straight away.

“He gives us the confidence to perform. He has been close to me since I was 17 or 18. I am so thankful to him for getting me to where I am today. It was me, being a boy, seeing what men’s football was all about. I did well.”

After dominating League One at such a young age during the 2015-16 season, and then watching on as the Magpies suffered Premier League relegation that same campaign – Armstrong thought he might have been due a Toon chance in the second division.

This wasn’t Newcastle’s call, though, and perhaps proved to be the correct one on goal output, and considering the storming season of 94 points in 46 games that followed.

Rafa Benitez opted to loan the young forward out to another team in the Championship, but one fighting at the other end of the table.

Armstrong added: “I went on loan to Coventry and Newcastle wanted me to go on loan, another one. They wanted me to join a lower Championship club and that was really hard to take.

“I went to Barnsley and I did enjoy it, it took me to the next step.”

Armstrong scored just six in 34 Championship appearances for the Tykes, and struggled again at relegation scrappers Bolton for the first half of the 2017-18 campaign, before dropping back down to League One for the second half – with Mowbray and Blackburn.

After helping fire Rovers back up out of the third division, Armstrong then moved permanently to the Lancashire outfit and steadily improved year-on-year since – making the £15million man Saints have now.

He said: “You could say it made life harder but it’s one of them.

“You learn new things, new ways of playing under a new manager. I scored some goals, but all those loan spells got me to where I am today.”