NEWCASTLE United striker JJ Hooper is confident the club’s Under-18s have got what it takes to win the FA Youth Cup.
Hooper’s extra-time winner against Queens Park Rangers at St James’s Park last week sent the club into the competition’s quarter-finals, where they will meet Blackburn Rovers, also at home.
The teenage striker was making his comeback from injury in the game.
Newcastle trailed to a first-half goal from Ben Brown in the dying minutes, but an Adam Campbell penalty sent the game into extra time.
And Hooper’s header gave Dave Watson’s side a deserved victory.
“It was a great performance from the team,” Hooper told the Gazette.
“We dug deep. It was a great performance, and a good penalty from Adam. Everything was good.
“My main focus was to get back playing. The goal was a bonus – the team performance was the main thing that got us through.
“We’ve been in that situation before this season and come back. We’ve done it again and again. We could have been three or four goals up.
“We had to stay focused. When you do that, you get the win, and we’re looking forward to the next round. We can go far in this competition.”
Londoner Hooper, signed from Sevenoaks in the summer of 2010, had hernia surgery in December.
“It’s been very frustrating, but in order to get back to my normal ways, I had to have the operation,” said Hooper.
“The players were doing fine without me, but it’s great to be back, and I can’t wait for the next game.
“All the boys get along well, and it’s great to play with them. It’s great to be at Newcastle.
“The lads have helped me settle. I do like it up there. The aim within the camp is to win the Youth Cup and the league. We’re on track for both of them.”
A date is yet to be set for the quarter-final tie against Blackburn.