Richard Midgley has revealed the secret behind his soaraway success story on Tyneside after blazing a glory trail in black this season. And the GB star insists his fitness and form is thanks to the French touch! Midgley has eased into cult hero TJ Walker’s shoes as the creative brain behind Newcastle’s recent 10-game winning streak.

But there is no need for constant cross-channel trips and pit-stops in Paris because Midgley’s driving force is Tyneside-based fitness guru Duncan French. ‘It just so happens Duncan is also the Team GB physio and I worked with his throughout the summer,’ said the former California Golden Bear.

‘When he’s not working with the international squad he’s based right here so I was able to continue my rehabilitation on his doorstep. It’s a massive help for me and for GB. Both me and Duncan keep in touch with the head coach Chris Finch and he’s always keen to know how I’m getting on. We’re already working towards the Eurobasket games next summer even though we don’t have a game for months. And the best way for me to keep in shape before then is to play every week for the Eagles and step up my work with Duncan.’

French is a familiar face on the North East sporting scene having spent several years honing the fitness of Team Northumbria’s elite sportsmen and women. And his reputation meant he was first choice to look after Finch’s big-name stars during the summer – including NBA giant Luol Deng.

Based at Gateshead’s English Institute for Sport, French has guided Midgley through a potentially career-threatening knee problem. But his good work could be bad news for Newcastle with a host of European clubs keeping tabs on the Eagles’ star player.

Midgley has a release clause in his contract should one of the continent’s big guns come calling. And after proving his fitness as an ever-present for the Eagles there is a real possibility Newcastle’s resolve could be tested in the New Year.

‘Right now I’m just focused on winning trophies with this team and we’re playing some great basketball at the moment,’ added Midge. ‘The BBL Cup is the first prize up for grabs and it’s important we claim it to set out our stall for the season.’