Rafa Benitez offers Newcastle United kids encouragement in their bid to make FA Youth Cup semi-finals
The young Magpies take on Tottenham Hotspur in this evening’s quarter final tie, with the last eight clash taking place at St James’s Park (kick-off 7pm).
And although the Spaniard will not be in attendance, with the small matter of a potentially season-defining first-team clash against top-of-the-table Brighton and Hove Albion 24 hours later, he is hopeful that Dave Watson’s side can progress on home turf.
When asked about his interest in the tie, Benitez said: “We have permanent contact with them [the youth team coaches].
“Obviously, you cannot watch the games as we have a busy period, but we are in contact with them and we hope they do well.”
United’s Under-18 side, should they progress, will face current FA Youth Cup holders Chelsea over two legs.
Watson’s youngsters progressed to this stage of the competition by beating Portsmouth – 4-1 – Swansea City – 3-1 – as well as seeing offer rivals Sunderland in the last 16, a match they dramatically won 4-3.
Spurs have been even more impressive in reaching this stage, and will no doubt prove a sterner test this evening – they’ve netted 16 goals in their three cup ties to date, one of which was an emphatic 10-1 win over Stevenage.
Although it’s fair to say neither side is in the richest vein of form with the Magpies without a win in the league this year and Spurs having only won once in their last seven outings.
The last time United reached this stage of the competition they were beaten by eventual winners Chelsea.
Admission at SJP this evening is free to all.