Last Monday Morning I arrived at the training ground to be greeted with the news that I was to be training with the reserve team. They were preparing for a fixture against Sheffield United therefore the session was shorter and lighter than what I’m usually used to come a Monday.
We played some short sharp small sided games and I must admit it’s always good to be training with the older lads as you can pick new things up all the time.
We travelled down to Sheffield on Tuesday morning for a 1pm kick off, in the past a lot of games have tended to be played at night which really means your day is dead for all intensive purposes as you don’t train so the earlier kick off is always appreciated by the players.
I was named as a substitute for the match, most players will tell you that as a footballer this is a bit of a nightmare as all you want to do is play but from my perspective it’s a different situation when you are young and trying to make your way in the game. Being on the bench actually in this instance represents a step forward and an opportunity to learn from older players who are in the same shoes as you albeit they’re trying to go from the reserves to the first-team while I’m trying to make the move up from the academy team to the reserves.
As the team sheets came in I immediately spotted the name of Nolberto Solano in the Sheffield United line up. Unbelievable I remember watching Nobby at St James’ Park a few years ago when he was playing for us and he’s a player I much admire so to be on the same pitch even to just warm up was crazy. He’s now signed for Leicester City and he showed some neat touches and real class during the game.
Sheffield United put out a really experienced side and it told as they came out on top, winning 4-1. I didn’t get on, but I really enjoyed the experience of travelling with the squad and being in that company.
On Thursday we had our first gym session with our new fitness coach. We were in the gym for 40 minutes but afterward I felt as if I’ve been doing weights for the whole day. I felt like popeye coming out of the gym and I hope our coach was having a laugh when he said that it had been a gentle introduction! Still feeling like a cross between popeye and Ade Akinbiyi we then went out to do a bit of finishing and 1 v 1 defending.
We weren’t out for long on Friday. After a decent warm we went on to 6 v 2 in small sided square. They are always great to get people going. We then went on to a small sided game. It was in a really tight area so the idea is that you have to stay on your toes, have a good touch and good awareness so that you can pass the ball quickly when it comes in to you without being caught in possession.
We finished off with some shape work, for the weekends game against Middlesbrough.
Academy Match: Newcastle United v Middlesbrough
While Middlesbrough have got an excellent reputation for producing young players they are always a team I’ve enjoyed playing against. I scored goals on both occasions when we met last season so I was in a positive frame of mind going in to the match.
Obviously my goal scoring prowess against the Boro had been taken in to account because as our coach read out our eleven he had decided that I would be playing on the right wing.
I was nervous at first as I hadn’t played there for some time, but at the same time I wanted to prove that I could play in various positions.
The game started at a frenetic pace with action at both ends but we gradually asserted some control and went one up thanks to a strike from Phil Airey. He’s been on fire recently so it wasn’t a surprise to see him notch another goal!
I got our second, when the ball was pulled back to me by Conor Newton who did really well down the wing. I found myself in some space and hit it first-time, it deflected off the defender and went in. One of the lads joked saying that it was bound to go down as an own goal but I’m having none of that!
Brad Inman then made it three but Boro his back with two goals from James Gray, thankfully we put those our defensive lapses behind us and kept them at bay before Brad rounded off the scoring.