Having been given a taste of action in the last round, Dan Barlaser admits he’s been bitten by the first-team bug at Newcastle United.
Barlaser played the full 90 minutes as United ran out 3-1 winners in their FA Cup third-round replay last week.
Running out in front of more than 36,000 Geordies has got the 20-year-old hooked. And Barlaser is desperate to follow that Magpies bow by getting yet more gametime at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow, where League One Oxford United are the opponents as Rafa Benitez’s men look to book their place in the last 16.
Reflecting on his debut, midfielder Barlaser said: “I feel like I did myself proud with my performance.
“Hopefully, the manager has seen enough to pick me in the squad for Oxford.”
It is likely that Barlaser will be in the squad tomorrow, especially having made the bench for the Championship win over Rotherham last weekend.
“I feel like I did myself proud with my performance (against Birmingham). And hopefully the manager has seen enough to pick me in the squad for Oxford.Dan Barlaser
But the future is much less certain for the Academy product.
It could be the case that a loan spell lies in wait towards the end of the January window. But for now, he’s focused solely on catching the manager’s eye and FA Cup progression.
“I have no clue about the future,” he said. “I would love to say what will happen, but there are a lot of players going for the same positions in the squad.
“Hopefully, I can get myself in a couple of squads and stay.”
Should Barlaser get the nod by Benitez he could well find himself alongside Jonjo Shelvey in the midfield engine-room.
Even though he sees him every day in training, Barlaser admits it was a whole different experience standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the England international on the pitch.
“He can do the passing and I can do the running,” joked Barlaser. “He is unbelievable to play alongside.
“All you have to do is pass him the ball. What is the point in doing it yourself when he can do it so well? All you have to do is give him the ball and he makes life easy.”
Given Benitez’s team against the Blues there’s a decent chance he could decide to use his squad to its full capacity tomorrow.
That would be music to the ears of Barlaser.
But the classy kid believes no matter what team the Spaniard fields, the players understand just how much the cup means to the club and supporters.
“It means a lot to this club – you can see that by the amount of fans who were at the Birmingham game,” he said.
“Oxford will be physical. They will be tough to beat. We need to make sure we take a strong squad, prepare well and try and get through to the next round.”