Date: 5th July 2019 at 5:01pm
Written by: Tony O'Connell

Expectations of Ben Dawson’s young Magpies squad were relatively low at the start of last season, but Newcastle’s Under 23s surprised a few in 2018/19 to reach the Play-Off Final of the Premier League 2 and the Final of the Premier League Cup. They lost 2-1 to Southampton and 1-0 Everton respectively, but captain Owen Bailey is hopeful United’s second-string can replicate last season’s form in the upcoming campaign, and maybe go one better.

The 20-year-old’s comments to the club’s official website have sparked quite the response from the Magpies fanbase, as well, with many taking the moment as a chance to lambast recent decisions being made on Tyneside like the exits of Ayoze Perez and Rafa Benitez.

The Spaniards may not be the only figures to leave United in the coming weeks, either, which could present opportunities for young players like Bailey to earn a call-up to the senior squad, and follow the footsteps of Sean Longstaff from a year ago.

On route to defeat in the Premier League 2 Play-Off Final, Bailey made 19 appearances at the heart of our defence, and even dabbled in defensive midfield on four occasions. The Newcastle-born ace also netted three goals across the term, including an 81st-minute strike against Southampton that gave Dawson’s men a chance to mount a late comeback.

Now, the 6 ft 1 ace believes the week spent in the Murcia region at a training camp will benefit his young teammates ahead of their upcoming friendly with Hibernian, and the effects should roll on into a promotion-chasing season.

“It’s great to be back,” he said. “Everyone is buzzing to be back at the Academy after having a good break and feeling refreshed. We are looking forward to the new season and hopefully ready for similar challenges to those we faced last year.

“We want to try and get out of the league and hopefully win it but we will take it game by game and see what comes our way but, at the moment, the squad are feeling good.

“Last year, we went to Scotland last year for pre-season so I think the climate will help us when we go to Spain with it being a lot hotter, improving our fitness whilst playing in tougher conditions. It will be a bit of a morale booster going abroad, especially to Spain, which will bring a bit more jazz to it. It will definitely help the squad bond together a lot better.

“I think we have a tight-knit squad, anyway, and with a new group of lads coming in to the team, which is really exciting. We will try and make them feel welcome straight away, and to Spain is probably the best thing you can do to get them integrated into the group immediately.”

Here’s how these Magpies supporters reacted when the club shared Bailey’s comments…

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