Dan Barlaser in shock Rafa Benitez trusted him to make Newcastle debut
Debutant and birthday boy Dan Barlaser was blown away by a 'surreal' Newcastle United debut.
And the classy, young midfielder, who turned 20 yesterday, admits he is still in shock that manager Rafa Benitez trusted him to start against a fellow Championship side.
Barlaser was handed his first ever United appearance in the 3-1 FA Cup win over Birmingham City at St James' Park last night.
And he admits he had to pinch himself when he found out he would be lining up alongside the likes of Jonjo Shelvey in the Magpies' midfield.
Of his United bow, he said: "It was unbelievable.
"Because of the calibre of the manager he is, he makes it a joy.
"To trust me to play against Birmingham, a team from the same league, is unbelievable.
"It was surreal. To make your debut on your birthday at the club you’ve been at since the age of nine is a proud moment for me and my family."
Barlaser has revealed that Spaniard Benitez pulled him aside before the third round clash to talk him though what he wanted on the night.
"He just said: ‘Run’," said the academy product.
"That’s it, just to press and enjoy it, which is what I did.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
"As a team we were just told to press them high.
"They had spaces behind which Jonjo (Shelvey) put the balls into and then we took their chances.
"For them to get the goal took the sting out of the game, but we got the third one and deserved it in the end because we played them off the park."
Of course, Barlaser was not the only debutant on a successful night for the Magpies.
Summer signing from Kilmarnock Stuart Findlay also came into the side, as well as YouTube sensation Yasin El-Mhanni.
While the fact he was a debutant was not unique, the amount of fans he had in the crowd definitely was.
"I had about 20 in the crowd," joked the youngster.
"After the game they were giving me kisses and cuddles and I was really happy.
"My phone died after the game because of all of the messages of support I received.
"When I switched it on again it was going off it.
"There were loads of Tweets but it’s good to get involved with the fans, they deserve it for a turn out like the Birmingham game."